Understanding Death with Dignity Legislation: A Necessity for the Palliative Care Provider

Expert Panelists: Frances DeRook, MD, FACC
On Demand: available for 6 months after purchase
Length: 90 minutes

This program was first presented in September 2015. Since that time, California has passed a law legalizing physician-assisted death, and it is under consideration by a number of other state legislatures and the District of Columbia Council.
This program is recorded. There is no opportunity to ask questions, which was available during the live program.

**Please note, CEs are not available for this program**
Assisted dying laws are controversial and ethically worrisome for many medical professionals and clinicians, including hospice clinicians and administrators. Data show that 90 percent of those using the law in states where physician-assisted death is legal are in hospice care. “Death with Dignity” laws present hospice providers with a chal­lenging dilemma, as many hospices are now being forced to consider the ramifications to their practice given wide­spread interest to make physician-assisted death legal in more states. How should hospices support a patient in their care who expresses interest in physician-assisted death or chooses to take steps to exercise their legal rights? 

This webinar helps hospice professionals to understand the framework of the Death with Dignity law in states where it is legal, to know how and why it is being used, and to see the varied ways that hospices have exercised their own rights in their response to it. The program will equip hospices administrators and clinicians with knowledge from the field that will help them to make policy and practice decisions should physician-assisted death become legal in their state.

This program does not address the ethics of the law, nor will questions from the audience regarding the ethics of the law be considered during the program. Hospice Foundation of America offers this program as information, not as support for the physician-assisted death, as its Board of Directors has never supported the law.

Frances DeRook, MD, is an attending physician in palliative medicine with Permanente Northwest in Portland, Oregon. She recently completed a Fellowship in Palliative Medicine at the University of Washington at Seattle.
A version of this continuing education program was presented at the Annual Assembly of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the Hospice & Palliative Nurses Association in February 2015.

Important note to viewers: Since this webinar was first presented, the New Mexico Supreme Court in 2016 overruled a 2014 District Court ruling that essentially made physician-assisted death legal in the state by ruling that it was a right under the state’s constitution for mentally competent, terminally-ill patients. The Supreme Court reversed that ruling, saying the matter should be resolved by executive and legislative branches. Therefore, assisted-dying is not legal in New Mexico
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