April 2013

Illinois Department of Public Health releases new IDPH Uniform DNR Advance Directives Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST)

The Illinois Department of Public Health has recently published a revised version of the IDPH Uniform DNR Advance Directive, which may also be referred to as a POLST form. This revised DNR form is a signed medical order that travels with the patient to assure that a patient's treatment preferences are honored across settings of care. The POLST model, new to Illinois, is a nationally recognized best practice. For more information on the National POLST Initiative, go to

POLST is designed to:

  • Help healthcare professionals know and honor the life-sustaining treatment wishes of their patients
  • Promote patient autonomy by creating medical orders that reflect the patient's treatment preferences
  • Facilitate appropriate treatment by emergency medicine and EMS personnel

The POLST form is an advance directive in accordance with Illinois law. It is not intended to replace a power of attorney for health care (POAHC) form. The POLST form should be used in addition to the POAHC form for appropriate patients. Use of the POLST form will be appropriate for:

  • Persons facing life-threatening complications, regardless of age; and/or
  • Patients with advanced illness or frailty and limited life expectancy; and/or
  • Patients who may lose the capacity to make their own healthcare decisions in the next year (such as persons living with dementia); and/or
  • Persons with strong preferences about current or anticipated end-of-life care
Key Changes
Old IDPH DNR Advance Directives
New IDPH DNR Advance Directives (POLST)
Form intended to indicate: do not attempt resuscitation
Allows patient to accept CPR
Form did not give clear choices for pre-arrest treatment
Form divided into 3 sections
A. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
B. Medical Intervention (pre-arrest)
C. Artificially Administered Nutrition


For more information on POLST, visit the Ethics page on the NCH Intranet. Additional education will be provided during April and May. For questions, contact Spiritual Care at ext. 2010 or Gloria Reidinger at ext. 7970.