State implements tool for end-of-life care planning

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Special to

Baton Rouge — The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals announced wider implementation of a document that makes it simpler for individuals to discuss and plan their own end-of-life care decisions with their physician.

The form, called the Louisiana Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment or LaPOST, is a voluntary document that allows individuals to state their preferences for the kinds of care they would like to receive when facing a serious, advanced illness that may eventually limit their ability to speak or direct their own care. LaPOST encourages important communication between doctors and patients, enables patients to make informed decisions, and helps makes these decisions travel easily across care settings.

While the LaPOST document has been available for several years, the completion will now be recorded as an integrated component of the Minimum Data Set (or MDS) assessment, which is filled out by health care professionals in nursing homes. LaPOST remains voluntary, but the inclusion in MDS documents the importance for nursing facility residents to choose to outline their wishes for care.

DHH Secretary Kathy H. Kliebert said studies have shown patients who discuss and plan for their goals of care get better, patient-centered care.

“It is so important for people to plan for these critical health-care decisions before a medical crisis,” Kliebert said.

“I encourage everyone, especially individuals battling a serious illness, to discuss LaPOST with their doctor.”

Health care planning through tools like LaPOST gives people the opportunity to consider the kind of care wanted if they became seriously ill or incapacitated and encourages them to talk about their wishes with their family members, health care providers, or legal representatives.

Dr. Susan Nelson, chair of the LaPOST Coalition, said they appreciate DHH’s recognition of the importance of the LaPOST document.

“LaPOST empowers consumers as well as health care professionals,” Nelson said. “It provides an effective way to make educated decisions about end-of-life-care.”

Approved as Act 954 in the 2010 regular session of the State Legislature, LaPOST is an evidence-based model designed to improve end-of-life care for those with serious, advanced illness.

LaPOST can improve end-of-life care in Louisiana stating a person’s health care wishes and goals of care in the form of a doctor’s order that can be transferred across care settings. For more information about LaPOST, visit