October 10, 2011
SALISBURY — It is never easy to make end-of-life health care decisions for yourself or a loved one.
Health care professionals and lawmakers in Maryland have recognized the process and paperwork involved with medical treatment options is often cumbersome, confusing and overwhelming for many patients and their families.
In an effort to minimize concerns and streamline the decision-making process, a new regulation in Maryland, referred to as Maryland MOLST — Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment — has been initiated to help guide patients and health care professionals through the process and ensure the patient’s wishes for medical care are carried out.
The law, scheduled to go into effect this year, requires a Maryland MOLST form be completed by or for all individuals admitted to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices, home health agencies, and dialysis centers.
The MOLST form is intended to help physicians and other health care providers discuss and convey a patient’s wishes regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other life-sustaining treatments.
MOLST orders should be completed for any person who wants to avoid or receive life-sustaining treatments; lives in a long-term care facility or requires long-term care services; or is at risk of dying within the next year.
“The MOLST form should prove to be beneficial to both patients and providers because it delivers specific orders for medical treatment and will be recognized in a variety of health care settings,” said Stephanie Mitchell, director of clinical operations at Peninsula Home Care.
“It will also help patients and decision makers understand life-sustaining treatments and discuss them with health care practitioners.”
Completion of the MOLST form will begin with a conversation between the patient and a qualified, trained health care professional.
The process allows any health care professional to define the patient’s goals for care, review possible treatment options on the MOLST form and ensure shared, informed medical decision-making.
All MOLST orders, however, must be signed by a Maryland licensed physician or nurse practitioner.
For more information on Maryland MOLST, visit www.peninsulahome care.com.