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Senior Citizen's Guide to Baltimore

Your Living Will on Steroids

You, as a Maryland resident, have a new and powerful tool at your disposal to ensure doctors and hospitals respect and follow your wishes for your end of life medical care. This tool is called the MOLST (“Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment”) form.

Every adult person in Maryland should, as part of good planning, have a Living Will and a Health Care Power of Attorney (or an Advance Directive that combines both a Living Will and a Health Care Power of Attorney).

These documents accomplish two goals:

  1. Allow you to declare your wishes for end of life medical care
  2. Name a health care agent to speak for you regarding your medical care if you cannot speak for yourself.

However, Living Wills and Health Care Powers of Attorney have substantial limitations. Medical staff cannot act on the provisions of Living Wills and Advance Directives without medical orders implementing the provisions. Additionally, health care agents may be unavailable in emergency situations to make health care decisions for you.

The MOLST form helps to correct these limitations. To be clear, YOU SHOULD STILL HAVE A LIVING WILL AND A HEALTH CARE POWER OF ATTORNEY. The MOLST serves as an additional tool to ensure that medical staff follows your wishes for medical care.

A doctor or a nurse practitioner must fill out the MOLST form in consultation with you or your health care agent. Once signed by the doctor or nurse practitioner, the MOLST form becomes a valid and powerful medical order that must be followed by medical staff and must follow you as you transfer medical facilities. For example, if you enter a nursing home and the nursing home doctor signs a MOLST form in consultation with you and you are transferred to a hospital, the MOLST form must accompany you to the hospital and remains a valid medical order that the staff at the hospital must follow.

You should consider the following important points:

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