We all die, and most of us understand that it is best to be prepared. Yet most of us remain woefully unprepared for life’s final transition. One way of addressing this problem is the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) paradigm, which provides an opportunity for patients with advanced illness to understand their illness and their treatment options and to have their wishes for these options known and followed.
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Rev. Gerald Coleman is vice president for corporate ethics, Daughters of Charity Health System, and adjunct professor at Santa Clara University. Margaret R. McLean is associate director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and a senior lecturer in Religious Studies at Santa Clara University.