California’s End of Life Option Act

Understanding the Act

California’s End of Life Option Act was signed into law October 2015 and took effect on June 9, 2016.

The End of Life Option Act allows an adult who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and who has a life expectancy of no more than six months to request and be prescribed an aid-in-dying drug, if specified conditions are met. In order to qualify for the aid-in-dying medication, the patient must have the capacity to make medical decisions for him/herself, be a resident of California, make three voluntary requests (two oral and one written) and have the ability to 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. Providing comfort and support to patients and their families during the final phase of life is at the heart of what hospitals and their caregivers do every day.

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

Enloe Medical Center’s approach

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 believes that the personal choice to end life as well as the complexity of the process often do not involve a stay in the hospital and are best and most appropriately made in a personal setting, in consultation with a family physician, and trusted friends and family.

For that reason, based on careful review and consideration, and as is entitled by the act, Enloe Medical Center has chosen not participate in aid-in-dying evaluations or prescriptions.

In order to help those who may wish to explore end-of-life option, manage symptoms and connect with resources, Enloe provides ongoing supportive and palliative care, as well as other education and counseling to our inpatients. Enloe also offers hospice care, to relieve pain and other symptoms, and to enhance the quality of remaining life. 

Planning for end of life

Enloe Medical Center and other hospitals encourage 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 explicitly states a patient’s end-of-life preferences 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), which enables patients to state the type of medical treatment they want toward the end of their lives. You can also find answers frequently asked questions about these important and sensitive subjects.

Learning more about the End of Life Option Act

The End of Life Option Act is quite complex and many steps and requirements are in place for patients and health care providers. Detailed information can be found on the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California website, at http://coalitionccc.org/tools-resources/end-of-life-option-act/. Information detailed there includes the qualifications that a patient must meet, the full definition of terminal diagnosis, how to find the Aid-In-Dying Request Form, more about how to ensure your health care providers respect and honor your decisions about care, and resources for additional education, training and publications on the Act, among other topics.

VIEW VIDEOS

  • video-img

    Drs. Voelker and Lobosky honored with 2014 Physician Legacy Award

  • video-img

    Drs. Voelker and Lobosky honored with 2014 Physician Legacy Award

  • video-img

    Drs. Voelker and Lobosky honored with 2014 Physician Legacy Award

  • video-img

    Drs. Voelker and Lobosky honored with 2014 Physician Legacy Award

© 2015 Enloe Medical Center. All Rights Reserved.