Sunday, March 13, 2011

completing a POSTfor Mom - the hard part about having Power of Attorney

During Mom's  hospitalization, I had to fulfill the uncomfortable part of being Mom's Power of Attorney.  I filled out a form called a P.O.S.T - Physicians order for scope of treatment.  It is intended to provide medical directives if a patient becomes incapacitated.   Normally completed by a patient and their doctor, I filled it out as Mom's Power of Attorney.  It is not something I ever wanted to do for Mom but it was clearly necessary at the time.   The POST replaces the DNR, the do not resuscitate order and living will.   With the form, Mom's doctor will work to ensure she's comfortable but no extraordinary measures will be used to prolong her life.   She's told us over and over that she wants no "tubes and wires" so this will ensure that no medical provider - not the nursing home, the hospital or the ER  - will go to extraordinary measures to keep her alive.  The form is easy enough, I checked off a few boxes and made some notes after talking with her doctor. 

This is the hardest part of being a Power of Attorney.  It is not something I want to do for Mom but it is something I agreed to do when I became her PoA.  She trusted me to carry out her wishes and look out for her best interest.  I believe that if a medical professional spoke to my Mom now, she would tell them to do "everything they can".  However, given her increasing forgetfulness and the combination of narcotic pain killers she's taking, I am not certain she could understand exactly what  "doing everything" means.   I based my instructions on the POST based on conversations I had with her a few years ago and on her current condition. 

This is the sad part about being her PoA. I signed papers giving instructions to her doctor about the end of her life.   It means that the end could happen at any time, for any reason that might be minor for someone younger and healthier. It really hits home how grave her condition is.

What is a POST? What is a physicians order for scope of treatment.?  What is a DNR?