California’s End Of Life Option Law – 2017 Update

Unknown-1Update On End of Life Report From California’s Department of Public Health

End of Life Option Act

According to California’s Department of Public Health, over one hundred people died under California’s newly enacted End of Life Option Act which went into effect on June 9, 2016.

Under this law, a mentally competent adult is eligible to end his or her life if it is determined that the adult has a terminal illness and it is medically determined that the patient has six months or less to live. Under the law the patient must make two verbal requests of their doctor, at least 15 days apart, as well as one written request. The person must affirm his or her request 48 hours before ingesting the medication, which they must be able to self-administer, without the help of a physician, family member or friend.

According to the 2017 California Department of Public Health Report

According to California’s End of Life Option report: “[E]ven during the early months of the law’s implementation, the law was working well and terminally ill Californians were able to take comfort in knowing that they had this option to peacefully end intolerable suffering,”

Here are some key statistics that are tracking the progress of the new law:

  • From June 9 to December 31, 2016, 258 people initiated the life-ending process.
  • The majority of these patients who choose to end their life were cancer patients.
  • The median age at time of death was 73. Most patients were white (89.5%), enrolled in hospice/palliative care (83.8%), and were covered by some type of health insurance (96.4%).

Privacy And Legal Considerations

Due to concerns of patient confidentiality and the legal considerations that relate to the patients testamentary concerns, such as the eligibility to recover a terminal patients life insurance, the law directs that the “cause of death”  listed on the official California’s death certificate, only states the underlying terminal illness and does not mention that the end-of-life option was utilized by the deceased patient.

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