Death with Dignity National Center [501(c)3 nonprofit organization]: https://www.deathwithdignity.org/learn/access/
Oregon Law: https://public.health.oregon.gov/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/DeathwithDignityAct/Pages/ors.aspx
Q: Who can participate in the Act?
A: The law states that, in order to participate, a patient must be:
1. 18 years of age or older
2. a resident of Oregon
3. capable of making & communicating health care decisions for him/herself
4. diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within 6 months.
It's up to the attending physician to determine whether these criteria have been met.
Q: Can someone, who doesn't live in Oregon participate in the Act?
Only patients who establish that they are residents of Oregon can participate if they meet certain criteria.
Q: How does a patient demonstrate residency?
A: A patient must provide adequate documentation to the attending physician
to verify that s/he is a current resident of Oregon.
Factors demonstrating residency include, but are not limited to:
- an Oregon Driver License,
- a lease agreement or property ownership document, showing that the patient rents or owns property in Oregon,
- an Oregon voter registration,
- a recent Oregon tax return,
It's up to the attending physician to determine whether or not the patient has adequately established residency.
Q: How long does someone have to be a resident of Oregon to participate in the Act?
A: There is no minimum residency requirement.
A patient must be able to establish that s/he is currently a resident of Oregon.
Q: Can a non-resident move to Oregon in order to participate in the Act?
A: There is nothing in the law that prevents someone from doing this.
However, the patient must be able to prove to the attending doctor that s/he is currently a resident of Oregon.
Q: How does a patient get a prescription from a participating physician?
A: The patient must meet certain criteria to be able to request to participate in the Act.
Then, the following steps must be fulfilled:
1. The patient must make 2 oral requests to the attending physician
- separated by at least 15 days;
2. The patient must provide a written request to the attending physician,
- signed in the presence of 2 witnesses,
- at least 1 of whom is not related to the patient;
3. The attending physician & a consulting physician must confirm the patient's diagnosis & prognosis;
4. The attending physician & a consulting physician must determine:
- whether the patient is capable of making & communicating health care decisions for him/herself;
- If either physician believes the patient's judgment is impaired by a psychiatric or psychological disorder (such as depression),
- the patient must be referred for a psychological examination;
5. The attending physician must inform the patient of feasible alternatives to the Act, including:
- comfort care, hospice care & pain control;
6. The attending physician must request (but may not require):
- the patient to notify their next-of-kin of the prescription request.
7. A patient can rescind a request at any time & in any manner.
- The attending physician will also offer the patient:
- an opportunity to rescind his/her request at the end of the 15-day waiting period,
- following the initial request to participate.
8. Physicians must report all prescriptions for lethal medications
- to the Oregon Health Authority, Vital Records.
- As of 1999, pharmacists must be informed of the prescribed medication's ultimate use.
Q: What kind of prescription will a patient receive?
A: It is up to the physician to determine the prescription.
- To date, most patients have received a prescription for an oral dosage of a barbiturate.
Q: How much does participation cost?
A: We do not collect cost data.
- However, direct costs for participation in the Act might include:
1. office calls relating to the request,
2. a psychological consult (if required) &
3. the cost of the prescription.
Q: Will insurance cover the cost of participation in the Act?
A: The Act does not specify - who must pay for the services.
- Individual insurers determine whether the procedure is covered under their policies
- (just as they do with any other medical procedure).
- Oregon statute specifies that participation under the Act is not suicide,
- so should not affect insurance benefits by that definition.
- However, federal funding cannot be used for services rendered under the Act.
- e.g., the Oregon Medicaid program, which is paid for by federal funding, ensures
- that charges for services related to the Act are paid only with state funds.
Q: Can a patient's family members request participation in the Act on behalf of the patient
(for example, in cases where the patient is comatose)?
- The law requires that the patient ask to participate voluntarily on his or her own behalf.
Q: Does the Act allow euthanasia?
A: No. Euthanasia is a different procedure for hastening death.
- In euthanasia, a doctor injects a patient with a lethal dosage of medication.
- In the Act, a physician only prescribes a lethal dose of medication to a patient,
- but the patient - not the doctor - administers the medication.
- Euthanasia is illegal in every state in the U.S., including Oregon.
- The Act has been legal in Oregon since November 1997.