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Ruiz Bill Giving Physician Assistants Authority in “Practitioner Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment” Forms Advances

Ruiz NJBOE photo 4

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz that would allow physician assistants to sign, modify, or revoke Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment forms, in the same manner as physicians and advanced practice nurses was approved by the Senate today. The bill, S-1109, would also require physician assistants to complete two credits of continuing medical education on topics related to end-of-life care as a condition of continued licensure.

“By including physician assistants with the other practitioners who manage POLST forms, patients can more readily express their wishes for life-sustaining interventions and have them more easily translated into a binding medical order during healthcare visits,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “This bill helps ensure the most compassionate care for people with compromised medical conditions or terminal illnesses when they are most in need of having their treatment preferences met.”

The POLST form complements an advance directive by converting a person’s wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment, such as those set forth in an advance directive, into a medical order. It contains immediately actionable, signed medical orders on a standardized form and includes medical orders that address a range of life-sustaining interventions as well as the patient’s preferred intensity of treatment for each intervention.

Evidence from other states has shown that the use of the POLST form helps these patients to have their health care preferences honored by health care providers.  Allowing physician assistants to facilitate the process increases the prevalence of formalized directives being issued.

Today’s 36-0 vote advances the bill to the Assembly for further consideration.