TRENTON, N.J. – Legislation approved today by the Assembly allows patients nearing the end of their lives to have more control of their care. The bill (S1109/A2144), sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, authorizes physician assistants to sign Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment forms. It now moves to the governor’s desk after passing the Senate in April.
“Decisions about end-of-life care are extremely personal and private,” said Munoz (R-Union). “These can be the some of the most difficult and important decisions of people’s lives. This bill ensures that when they make a choice or change their minds, their wishes are heard and followed.”
The POLST form allows patients to state their desires for end-of-life care in their own words. The form then becomes a medical order which must be followed by all providers.
The decisions include whether to attempt resuscitation, administer IV fluids, use intubation and mechanical ventilation, and provide nutrition.
Currently, the forms must be signed by a physician or advanced practice nurse to be valid. This bill expands the number of providers who may sign the form with the addition of physician assistants and requires them to complete two credits of continuing education on end-of-life care.