TRENTON, N.J. – Legislation signed by Gov. Phil Murphy today allows patients nearing the end of their lives to have more control of their care.
Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz sponsored the bill (S11109/2144) after serving on the New Jersey Governor’s Advisory Council on End-of-Life Care. The new law was a council recommendation, authorizing physician assistants to sign Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment forms.
“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. It then becomes a medical order that must be followed by all providers. The decisions include whether to attempt resuscitation, administer IV fluids, use intubation and mechanical ventilation, and provide nutrition.
Previously forms had to be signed by a physician or advanced practice nurse to be valid. This law allows physician assistants to sign the form after completing two credits of continuing education on end-of-life care.
The advisory council released a report in 2018 underscoring the importance of a unified statewide system for Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining-Treatment.