End of Life Option Act
The End of Life Option Act, which went into effect on June 9, 2016, gives
terminally ill adults in California the option to end their lives by swallowing
lethal doses of physician-prescribed drugs. For a patient to receive the
drug, two doctors must confirm the patient’s prognosis of six months
or less to live and determine that the patient is mentally competent to
make informed health care decisions. The patient must then make two oral
requests 15 days apart, and one written request, to a physician for assisted
death, with witnesses to all requests. The new legislation allows for
organizations and physicians to “opt-out” of dispensing end-of-life drugs.
St. Joseph Health Medical Group has “opted-out” of the provisions
of California’s end-of-life law and will not participate in the
aid in dying practice on our premises, as allowed by the legislation.
This means dispensing end-of-life medications will not take place at our
physician offices or any of our affiliated hospitals. We believe physicians
have an obligation to openly discuss patient’s concerns, unmet needs,
feelings and desires about the dying process. It’s important to
learn the meaning behind the patient’s question and attempting to
respond to a patient’s concern can be a potent, therapeutic intervention.
In most cases, people wishing to use this option would do so in a home
or other setting, and many hospitals in states where physician-assisted
suicide is legal have also decided not to participate on their premises.
Most patients who initially consider obtaining a lethal dose of medication
do not persist with their requests when they feel their concerns are effectively