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POLST Empowers Patients in Healthcare Decisions

POLST Empowers Patients in Healthcare Decisions

Talking about your wishes in a chronic illness or at the end of life is a conversation that can be awkward, difficult and for some of us, one we would rather avoid. But its a conversation you must have as an important and necessary part of good medical care. You have the right to participate fully in all your healthcare decisions, and this becomes especially important near the end of life.

New Jersey now has a new resource to make your preferences known called Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, or POLST. POLST is a medical order form that details your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment. POLST forms currently are used in 42 states, and Gov. Chris Christie signed New Jerseys POLST law in December 2011.

The form is intended to be completed jointly by you and your physician or an advanced practice nurse (APN). You can modify your POLST at any time. To access New Jerseys POLST form, go to www.njha.com/POLST.

Your healthcare team wants to understand your wishes and goals of care, and filling out the POLST form is one of the easiest and simplest ways to do this. POLST can help you make meaningful personal choices regarding your care, and your instructions will be honored across all care settings including emergency medical services, hospitals and nursing homes.

You should have a POLST form if you are:

Seriously ill with a life-limiting advanced illness

Frail and weak and have trouble performing routine daily activities

Afraid of losing the capacity to make your own healthcare decisions in the near future

Living in a nursing home or hospice.

Educate yourself by talking with your doctor or APN about your options, and then discuss your choices with your family. How do you want to live your life in the time you have left? How much do you want to know about your illness and how much does your family know about your priorities and wishes? What are your goals in the next year or so? These are all issues you need to consider as you determine your treatment options. Having a completed POLST form also will allow you to make known any personal, cultural or spiritual practices related to your care. Your quality of life during this time should be totally under your control.

POLST complements an Advance Directive and does not totally replace that document. You may still need an advance directive to appoint a legal healthcare administrator. It is recommended that all adults have an advance directive regardless of their health status. If there is a conflict between the documents, the most current document will be followed. (more)

POLST can help you enhance your personal liberty at the end of life, and it empowers you to make a clear statement aboutthe type of medical services you will receive among your end-of-life care. Its up to you to take the initiative and express your wishes, and POLST will help you do just that. Talk with your doctor or advance practice nurse about POLST.

Source www.njha.com/media/293407/POLSTNewstoUse.doc

Kenneth Vercammen was the Middlesex County Bar Municipal Court Attorney of the Year
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Kenneth Vercammen is the Managing Attorney at Kenneth Vercammen & Associates in Edison, NJ. He is a New Jersey trial attorney has devoted a substantial portion of his professional time to the preparation and trial of litigated matters. He has appeared in Courts throughout New Jersey each week for litigation and contested Probate hearings.

Mr. Vercammen has published over 125 legal articles in national and New Jersey publications on elder law, probate and litigation topics. He is a highly regarded lecturer on litigation issues for the American Bar Association, NJ ICLE, New Jersey State Bar Association and Middlesex County Bar Association. His articles have been published in noted publications included New Jersey Law Journal, ABA Law Practice Management Magazine, and New Jersey Lawyer.

He is chair of the Elder Law Committee of the American Bar Association General Practice Division. He is also Editor of the ABA Estate Planning Probate Committee Newsletter and also the Criminal Law Committee newsletter. Mr. Vercammen is a recipient of the NJSBA- YLD Service to the Bar Award. And past Winner "General Practice Attorney of the Year" from the NJ State Bar Association. He is a 22 year active member of the American Bar Association. He is also a member of the ABA Real Property, Probate & Trust Section.

He established the NJlaws website which includes many articles on Elder Law. Mr. Vercammen received his B.S., cum laude, from the University of Scranton and his J.D. from Widener/Delaware Law School, where he was the Case Note Editor of the Delaware Law Forum, a member of the Law Review and the winner of the Delaware Trial Competition.


Edison Adult School -Wills, Elder Law & Probate- 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 [inc Edison TV], 2001, 2000,1999,1998,1997
Nuts & Bolts of Elder Law - NJ Institute for Continuing Legal Education/ NJ State Bar ICLE/NJSBA 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2000, 1999, 1996
Elder Law and Estate Planning- American Bar Association Miami 2007
Elder Law Practice, New Ethical Ideas to Improve Your Practice by Giving Clients What They Want and Need American Bar Association Hawaii 2006
South Plainfield Seniors- New Probate Law 2005, East Brunswick Seniors- New Probate Law 2005
Old Bridge AARP 2002; Guardian Angeles/ Edison 2002; St. Cecilia/ Woodbridge Seniors 2002;
East Brunswick/ Halls Corner 2002;
Linden AARP 2002
Woodbridge Adult School -Wills and Estate Administration -2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996
Woodbridge Housing 2001; Metuchen Seniors & Metuchen TV 2001; Frigidare/ Local 401 Edison 2001; Chelsea/ East Brunswick 2001, Village Court/ Edison 2001; Old Bridge Rotary 2001; Sacred Heart/ South Amboy 2001; Livingston Manor/ New Brunswick 2001; Sunrise East Brunswick 2001; Strawberry Hill/ Woodbridge 2001;
Wills and Elder Law - Metuchen Adult School 1999,1997,1996,1995,1994,1993
Clara Barton Senior Citizens- Wills & Elder Law-Edison 2002, 1995
AARP Participating Attorney in Legal Plan for NJ AARP members 1999-2005

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