If you google "REST partial update" you will get a lot of opinions.
Having said that I'll give you my thoughts.
A PUT should be used for a full update of a resource so only changing one parameter you are better off POSTing to /purchase_order/1 a recent result of a GET to /purchase_order/1 with the status field changed from draft to sent.
Another option would be to send a PUT to /purchase_order/1/status with a value of sent, this could then be interpreted on the server side as an update to the sub resource status of the resource purchase_order. You could even return 303 pointing back at the /purchase_order/1 resource to let the client know that a different resource than they interacted with has changed and where to find that resource.
You could consider the PATCH verb but if you follow the semantics properly then you shouldn't just send the requested state, but rather a content-type that you specify that lists a set of operations you wish to be applied.
If an action is going to have side effects then you need to make this clear in your API. So be careful when using PUT, which is designed to be idempotent.