Legislation mandating that New Jersey create a document that enables patients to indicate their preferences regarding life-sustaining treatment has been signed into law.

Proponents say the measure signed Wednesday by Gov. Chris Christie will improve the care people receive as they near death and help ensure their wishes are respected and followed.

It calls for the creation of a standardized document called Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST), which will indicate to health care providers a person's specific medical orders regarding such treatment.

Such documents are typically used by those with serious medical conditions or terminal illnesses and -- in most cases -- supplement a patient's wishes conveyed through a previously prepared advance directive. The program will be developed, overseen and publicized by the state's Health and Senior Services Department.

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