What is the End of Life Option Act?

On June 9, 2016, the End of Life Option Act took effect in California.  There were some legal challenges, but the law is in effect unless there are any future rulings to the contrary.  There are three other states which have similar laws.  Since the passage of this law, there have been some confusion about the requirements for requesting this aid-in-dying drug.

This law allows the prescription of lethal medications to patients with terminal diseases.  Those that are eligible for the medication must have a terminal disease, have mental capacity to make this decision, and voluntarily request a prescription for the aid-in-dying drug.

In order to ensure that this decision is voluntary, the law requires the patient to make at least two oral requests directly to his or her physician.  These requests must be at least fifteen days apart.  Additionally, a written request is required and it must be signed by two witnesses.  One of these witnesses cannot be related by blood, marriage, adoption, or a beneficiary of the patient’s estate.

Once the written and oral requests are received by the attending physician, then the matter is referred to a consulting physician.  The role of the consulting physician is to verify the prognosis.  A mental health assessment may be required to ensure that the patient has capacity to make this decision. 

After this process has been completed, the attending physician can either directly dispense the medication or provide a prescription.  The patient must self-administer the aid-in-dying drugs.  No one else is allowed to administer the aid-in-dying drugs, but others may be present to help prepare the medication.

While there was much controversy regarding the passage of this law, this is the current law in California regarding the administration of the aid-in-dying drugs.

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