Susan Tolle, M.D.

TolleSusan Tolle, M.D.
Professor of Medicine
Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics

Education and Training

B.S., Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon, 1970-1973

Medical Degree:
M.D., University of Oregon Health Sciences Center, Portland, Oregon, 1973-1977

General Internal Medicine, University of California Hospitals, San Diego, 1977-1980
Chief Resident in Internal Medicine, University of California Hospitals, San Diego, 1980-1981

Clinical Medical Ethics, University of Chicago-Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, Chicago, 1988-1989


Dr. Susan Tolle is a graduate of the Oregon Health & Science University. After graduating AOA (Alpha Omega Alpha) for OHSU, she completed her internal medicine residency at UC San Diego where she was also Chief Resident. She later completed a fellowship in Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago. Susan founded and has directed the Oregon Health & Science University Center for Ethics in Health Care since 1989 and has shepherded its growth into a now internationally recognized ethics center with programs such as the Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) program and more recently the Oregon POLST Registry. Dr. Tolle is a Professor of Medicine and she holds the Cornelia Hayes Stevens Endowed Chair in Health Care Ethics. She is a practicing internist in the Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics. In 2014, she received the MacLean Prize in Clinical Medical Ethics.


Internal Medicine, 1980

Research Interests

Dr. Tolle has over two decades of experience in conducting research about the Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment Program (POLST) and end of life care more broadly. In recognition of the National impact of her work she was awarded the MacLean Center prize in Clinical Ethics and Health Outcomes in 2014.

Selected Publications

  1. Lammers A, Zive DM, Tolle SW, Fromme EK. (2017). The Oncology Specialist's Role in POLST Form Completion. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, available online 16 April 2017. doi: 10.1177/1049909117702873

  2. Tolle SW, Teno JM. (2017). Lessons from Oregon in Embracing Complexity in End-of-Life Care. New England Journal of Medicine, available online 16 March 2017; 376:1078-1082. doi: 10.1056/NEJMsb1612511

  3. Hayes, S.A.,Zive, D., Ferrell, B., Tolle, S.W. (2016). The Role of AdvancedPractice Registered Nurses in the Completion of Physician Orders for Life-SustainingTreatment. Journal ofPalliative Medicine, Available online 21 October 2016,doi:10.1089/jpm.2016.0228.

  4. Zive, D. M., Cook, J., Yang, C.,Sibell, D., Tolle, S.W., Lieberman, M. (2016). Implementation of a NovelElectronic Health Record-Embedded Physician Orders for Life-SustainingTreatment System. Journal of Medical Systems,Available online 1 October 2016, 40: 245. doi:10.1007/s10916-016-0605-3

  5. Zive, D. M., Fromme, E.K., Schmidt, T. A., Cook, J. N. B., Tolle, S. W. (2015). Timing of POLST Form Completion byCause of Death. Journalof Pain and Symptom Management, Available online 7 July 2015, ISSN0885-3924, doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2015.06.004
  6. Schmidt T, Zive D, Fromme E, Cook J, Tolle S, Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST): Lessons Learned from Analysis of the Oregon POLST Registry, Resuscitation 2014 Apr;85(4): 480-5.
  7. Fromme EK, Schmidt T, Zive D, Cook J, Tolle S, Associate between POLST scope of treatment orders and in-hospital death in Oregon, JAGS,62:1246-1251, 2014.
  8. Schmidt TA, Olszewski EA, Zive D, Fromme EK, Tolle SW. The Oregon POLST Registry: A Preliminary STudy of EMS Utilization. J Emerg Med 2013, 44(4): 796-805.
  9. Fromme, EK, Zive, D, Schmidt, TA, Olszewski, E, Tolle, SW, POLST Registry Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders and Other Patient Treatment Preferences. JAMA 2012, 307(1): 34-35
  10. Fromme, EK, Stewart, TL, Jeppesen, M, Tolle, SW. Adverse Experiences With Implantable Defibrillators in Oregon Hospices Am J Hosp Palliat Care August 2011 28: 304-309
  11. Hickman SE, Nelson CA, Moss AH, Tolle SW, Perrin NA, Hammes BJ. The Consistency Between Treatments Provided to Nursing Facility Residents and Orders on the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment Form. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2011: Article first published online: 22 OCT 2011, DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03656.x 

10. Hickman, S, Nelson C, Perrin N, Moss A, Hammes B, Tolle S.. "A Comparison of Methods to Communicate Treatment Preferences in Nursing Facilities: Traditional Practices Versus the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment Program." Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2010 58(7): 1241-1248.

11. Hickman S, Nelson C, Moss A, Hammes B, Terwillger, A, Jackson A, Tolle . Use of the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) Paradigm Program in Hospice Setting. J Palliat Med 2009; 133-141

12. Dunn PM, Tolle SW, Moss AH, Black J.  The POLST Paradigm: Respecting the Wishes of Patients and Families. Annals of Long-Term Care 2007; 15(9):33-40

13. Fromme EK, Bascom PE, Hansen LI, Smith MD, Osborne MO, Tolle SW. Survival, mortality, and location of death for patients seen by a hospital-based palliative care team. J Palliat Med 2006.

14. Schmidt TA, Hickman SE, Tolle SW, Brooks HS. The Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment program: Oregon emergency medical technicians' practical experiences and attitudes. J Am Geriatr Soc 2004; 52(9):1430-1434

15. Hickman, SE Tolle, S.T., Brummel-Smith, K., & Carley, MM . Use of the Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment Program in Oregon nursing facilities: beyond resuscitation status. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2004; 52(9):1424-1429

Patient Care Locations

General Internal Medicine Clinic, Physicians Pavilion

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