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1. Palliative care — pain and symptom management. 2. Hospice — holistic comfort care. 3. Voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED) — refusing food, liquids or artificial feeding to shorten the dying process. 4. Declining or stopping life-sustaining treatment — refusing medications or procedures to treat health conditions. 5. Continuous deep sedation/palliative sedation — Medicating patients to reduce consciousness to relieve extreme pain and suffering, usually resulting in death. 6. Medical Aid in Dying — A practice in which a terminally ill adult has the option to ingest medication prescribed by their doctor to end unbearable suffering and die peacefully in their sleep.
Medical Aid in Ddying is the practice in which a mentally capable, terminally ill adult with less than six months to live has the option to request prescription medication from their doctor they can decide to ingest to die peacefully if their suffering becomes unbearable. Many people who get the medication do not take it, but simply having the option can relieve anxiety about needless misery at the end of their life.
As of 2021, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have Medical Aid in Dying statutes. Montana is also legal by way of a 2009 State Supreme Court ruling.
As controlled, Schedule 2 substances, medications prescribed under death with dignity laws are regulated by federal statutes. The medications must be taken by the person prescribed to; criminal penalties may ensue if another person takes them. If the person dies without using the medication, then Hospice, or those present at the person's death must properly dispose the medication.
Yes, it is your decision alone to decide whether you want to take the medication.
These are the requirements to be met: 1. Diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within 6 months, as confirmed by two qualified healthcare providers; 2. Mentally competent, i.e. capable of making and communicating your healthcare decisions; 3. Capable of self-administering and ingesting medications without assistance; and 4. Be an adult resident in a state where the law is in effect.
No. Participation in assisted dying is strictly voluntary, for both patients and their providers. No one is encouraged or obligated to use these laws; they merely provide an option to those who wish to use them.
Individual insurers determine whether the procedure is covered under their policies, just as they do with any other medical procedure. Federal funding, including Medicaid and Medicare, cannot be used for services or medications received under these laws. Physician aid in dying statutes specify that participation under them is not suicide. Therefore, your decision to end your life under an aid-in-dying statute has no effect on your life, health, or accident insurance or annuity policy.
Yes. For physicians, medical aid-in-dying laws codify and bring to light the common practice of giving life-ending medications to their patients. Death with dignity legislation protects physicians by stipulating the steps they must follow and, provided they follow the law, providing them with immunity from civil and criminal liability as well as professional disciplinary action.
Data and studies show that the safeguards in these laws work as intended, protecting patients and preventing misuse. No evidence of coercion or abuse has been documented since the first such law took effect in 1997. The law includes the following safeguards: Patients must meet stringent eligibility requirements, including being an adult, a state resident, mentally competent, and having a terminal diagnosis with a six-month prognosis as confirmed by two licensed physicians. The patient must be informed by the attending physician of the diagnosis, the prognosis, the nature of the medication to be prescribed, and other alternatives, including comfort care, hospice care and pain control. The patient must make two separate requests for medication, oral and written. Only the patient him or herself can make the oral and written requests for medication, in person. It is impossible to stipulate the request in an advance directive, living will, or any other end-of-life care document. The patient must wait at least 15 days before getting the medication. It cannot be a spur of the moment decision. The written request must be witnessed by at least two people, who, in the presence of the patient, attest that to the best of their knowledge and belief the patient is capable, acting voluntarily, and is not being coerced to sign the request. One of the witnesses cannot be a relative of the patient by blood, marriage or adoption, or anyone who would be entitled to any portion of the patient’s estate. The patient must be deemed capable to take (self-administer and ingest) the medication themselves, without assistance, which assures it is a voluntary act. The patient may rescind the request at any time. Two physicians, one of whom is the patient’s attending physician, must confirm the diagnosis. Each physician must be licensed by the state to practice medicine and certified to prescribe medications. If either physician determines the patient may be suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression causing impaired judgment, they must refer the patient for evaluation by a state licensed psychiatrist or psychologist to determine their mental competency. Medication cannot be prescribed until such evaluation determines the patient is mentally competent. The physicians must meet strict reporting requirements for each request. Anyone who falsifies a request, destroys a rescission of a request, or who coerces or exerts undue influence on a patient to request medication under the law commits a Class 2 felony.
In the more than 40 combined years of experience with medical aid in dying in states where it is authorized, there has not been a single substantiated accusation of abuse or coercion. Medical aid-in-dying laws work as intended. Terminally ill people who choose medical aid in dying are almost always under hospice care, where an interdisciplinary team that includes social workers, nurses and clergy screen them regularly to ensure they remain mentally capable and are acting voluntarily. Furthermore, medical aid-in-dying laws make it a felony to coerce someone to request the medication or to forge a request. Under existing laws, two physicians must certify that the person’s request is informed and free of undue influence or coercion, and two witnesses who personally know the dying person have to attest that the person is making a voluntary, informed decision and without undue influence or coercion. In addition, only the dying person may self­-administer the medication; administering the medication by any other person is a felony.