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Death With Dignity

California End Of Life Option Act

The California End of Life Option Act, advocating Death With Dignity, became effective on June 9, 2016, with revisions taking effect on 1/1/2022.

In a recent LA Times article titled “One last trip: Gabriella Walsh’s decision to die — and celebrate life — on her own terms,” Gabriela’s story was featured. Gabriela was one of our Patients.

This law allows very sick adults in California to ask their doctor for medicine to end their lives. People who choose this option and follow the rules won’t be called suicides; instead, their death will be linked to their serious illness. Doctors who give aid-in-dying medicine and follow all the rules won’t get in legal trouble or face professional penalties. Taking part in this end-of-life choice is a choice for both patients and doctors.

Hospice Care

Who can use this option?

To get the aid-in-dying medicine, a person needs to:

  1. Be 18 years or older
  2. Live in California
  3. Have a terminal disease with a prognosis of death within six months
  4. Be able to make medical decisions without being impaired by a mental disorder
  5. Be capable of taking the medicine themselves, either orally, anally, or through an existing feeding tube.

What changes does SB 380 make to the End of Life Option Act (ELO)?

SB 380 changes the End of Life Option Act process for patients by reducing the required waiting time and clarifying when this period starts.

  • The waiting period between the first and second oral requests is reduced from 15 days to 48 hours.
  • If a patient asks a doctor for End of Life Option (ELO), the waiting period begins right away, regardless of the doctor’s involvement. Or the possibility of conducting a full examination or assessment on that specific day.

How does this change affect patients?

The shortened waiting period benefits patients by expediting the process. It’s crucial to note that the patient’s initial and second oral requests do not cover the entire process.

Resources

Bill Text-
AB-15 End of life SB 380 End of Life Option Act 2022

California Medical Association-

CMA On-Call: California End of Life Option Act
California Department of Public Health-
CDPH

How long does the entire ELO (End of Life Option) process, promoting Death With Dignity, take at Hospice Care LA?

The California End of Life Option Act, advocating Death With Dignity, became effective on June 9, 2016, and underwent revisions that took effect on 1/1/2022. On average, the entire process spans three weeks. Our physicians thoroughly review the patient’s medical history before prescribing aid-in-dying medication. After the first and second oral requests, a mandatory 48-hour waiting period follows. Upon completing the second oral request, the process begins, including:

  • Physicians conduct at least three appointments, reviewing the medical record, and consulting with specialists when necessary.
  • The patient must complete the written request form with two witness signatures and submit it before writing the prescription.
  • Once writing the prescription, dispensing, delivery, and pharmacy consultation require an additional 7 business days.

At Hospice Care LA, our physicians dedicate themselves to thoroughly assessing each patient’s terminal illness and prognosis, engaging in goals of care discussions to address the patient’s clinical and emotional needs, and seeking input from medical specialists and mental health clinicians when necessary.

How soon will I get the medication after the prescription is written?

Typically, the prescription filling and delivery process takes approximately 7 business days. Please note that prescriptions cannot be filled or delivered on weekends or holidays. The ELO medication is couriered to the patient, and a consultation appointment with a pharmacist is usually scheduled on the same day.

If the waiting period is 48 hours, why can’t the medication be obtained in 48 hours, promoting Death With Dignity?

The California End of Life Option Act, supporting Death With Dignity, came into effect on June 9, 2016, and received updates on 1/1/2022. It’s important to note that there is a mandated waiting period of at least 48 hours between the patient’s initial and second oral requests. However, the law does not specify a particular timeframe for completing the remaining steps.

Transitioning to our commitment at Kaiser Permanente, we are dedicated to honoring patients’ preferences and optimizing the process efficiently. We ensure that patients meet the legal criteria and undergo a thorough evaluation, instilling confidence in the prescribing doctor that the process aligns with California law.

Can I take the medication at Los Angeles Hospice Care?

Hospice Care LA does not allow ingestion of ELO medications in any of its facilities.

The End of Life Option Act

At Hospice Care LA, our overarching mission is to provide high-quality, affordable healthcare services with a compassionate touch to all our members, including those facing terminal illness. Our palliative care and hospice services specifically meet the end-of-life needs of both patients and their families.

Furthermore, we prioritize guiding principles during these challenging times by focusing on patient preferences and choices. Additionally, we offer services aligned with the California End of Life Option Act for those individuals interested.

To facilitate this process, licensed clinical social workers actively support patients, families, and physicians. If you are considering this option and wish to explore it further, please feel free to contact us through the information provided on our contact page.

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