End of Life Option Act

Understanding the Act

Older couple smiling California’s End of Life Option Act took effect June 9, 2016.

It allows an adult to be prescribed an aid-in-dying drug if the following conditions are met:

  1. The person has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
  2. The person has a life expectancy of no longer than six months.
  3. The person has the capacity to make medical decisions for themselves.
  4. The person is a resident of California.
  5. The person makes three voluntary requests (two oral and one written).
  6. The person can self-administer the medication.

A Hospital’s Role

California’s hospitals are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to anyone in need of care. Hospitals are where life’s greatest joys and deepest sorrows play out every hour of every day. Supporting patients and their families during the final phase of life is at the heart of what hospitals and their caregivers do.

In most cases, the activities associated with the End of Life Option Act will not occur in a hospital. A hospital’s participation in activities authorized by the End of Life Option Act is completely voluntary. But a hospital’s employees, medical staff, independent contractors or others may provide information about the act. They may refer a patient to another provider who does participate in the activities authorized under the act.

Enloe’s Approach

Young cancer patient with husband Every hospital and health care provider must make their own decision as to whether they wish to assist terminally ill patients in choosing to end their life through aid-in-dying protocols.

Enloe Medical Center allows physicians to serve as attending/prescribing or consulting/second opinion doctors for medical aid-in-dying.

Enloe caregivers are allowed to provide care to patients using medical aid-in-dying prescriptions. This care is given voluntarily, and not all caregivers may choose to participate.

If a patient requests information about medical aid-in-dying and no physician who wishes to participate is available, the patient will be given information about the Patient to Doctor Referral System. This system is administered by the American Clinicians Academy on Medical Aid in Dying, a nonprofit organization designed to assist providers of medical aid-in-dying and their patients.

Planning for End of Life

Enloe encourages physicians, patients, families, loved ones, religious representatives and caregivers to have open conversations about medical care and end-of-life wishes. This includes completing an Advance Health Care Directive that states a patient’s end-of-life preferences. This is done while the patient has the capacity to understand the consequences of their decisions.

Advance Health Care Directive forms are available in English and Spanish on our website, at www.enloe.org/directive. This webpage also provides information on POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). A POLST allows patients to state the type of medical treatment they want toward the end of their lives. 

Learn More

Man taking notes at computerThe End of Life Option Act is complex. There are many steps and requirements for patients and health care providers.

Learn more on the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California’s website, including:

  • Qualifications a patient must meet
  • The definition of a terminal diagnosis
  • How to find the Aid-in-Dying Request Form
  • How to ensure your providers respect and honor your decisions
  • Resources for more education and training
  • And more

Learn More

Are you or a loved one facing a serious illness or nearing the end of life?

Visit the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California for helpful tools and resources.

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