End of Life Option Act

The End of Life Option Act allows eligible California adults who’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness and expected to have less than 6 months to live to obtain a drug from their physician that will end their life. The Act defines who’s eligible and the guidelines when a physician can legally prescribe aid-in-dying medications. Participation in this end-of-life option is voluntary for both patients and physicians.

The End of Life Option Program at Delta Health Hospice acknowledges that each person has unique beliefs and values. Our goal is to provide care that aligns with patients’ wishes and support patients who have questions about medical aid-in-dying so they can make the decision that is best for them.

For information on the End of Life Option Act or on our End of Life Option Program at Delta Health Hospice, please call 747-214-4843 or visit us at www.DeltaHealthHospice.com

To Be Eligible To Request A Prescription For The Aid-In-Dying Drugs, An Individual Must

  • Be an adult (18 years old or older).
  • Be a California resident.
  • Have a diagnosis from his/her primary physician of an incurable and irreversible disease which will, within reasonable medical judgement, result in death within six months.
  • Be able to make medical decisions for themselves as determined by health professionals.
  • Voluntarily request a prescription for an aid-in-dying drug without influence from others.
  • Be able to self-administer (eat, drink, and swallow) the aid-in-dying drug.

The request must be made solely and directly by the patient to the attending physician, and cannot be made on behalf of the patient through a power of attorney, an advance health care directive, a conservator, health care agent, surrogate, or any other legally recognized health care decision maker.

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To Be Eligible To Request A Prescription For The Aid-In-Dying Drugs, An Individual Must

  • The patient’s understanding of his/her diagnosis and prognosis
  • The patient’s hopes and fears
  • The benefits of palliative care and hospice care
  • Options for pain control and symptom management

The Process For Requesting Aid-In-Dying Drugs

If a terminally-ill patient meets the requirements to receive the aid-in-dying drug, the patient and his or her attending physician must follow several steps which are carefully defined in the law, including:

The patient must make two oral requests, at least 48 hours apart, directly to his or her physician (the attending physician)

  • The patient must also make one request in writing, using the Patient’s Request for Aid-in-Dying Drug form (PDF), which must be signed by the patient and two witnesses, and provided directly to his or her attending physician. The law does not say specifically when the written request must be made.
  • The patient must discuss the aid-in-dying drug request with his/her attending physician without anyone else present (except an interpreter, if needed), to make sure the request is voluntary.
  • The patient must then see a second physician (a consulting physician) who can confirm the patient’s diagnosis, prognosis, and ability to make medical decisions.

If either physician thinks the patient’s ability to make medical decisions could be impaired, the patient must also see a mental health specialist (psychiatrist or licensed psychologist) to make sure his or her judgment is not impaired.

SB-380 End of life. (2021-2022)

Existing law, the End of Life Option Act, until January 1, 2026, authorizes an adult who meets certain qualifications, and who has been determined by their attending physician to be suffering from a terminal disease, as defined, to make a request for an aid-in-dying drug for the purpose of ending their life. Existing law establishes the procedures for making these requests, including that 2 oral requests be made a minimum of 15 days apart, specified forms to request an aid-in-dying drug be submitted, under specified circumstances, and a final attestation be completed. Existing law requires specified information to be documented in the individual’s medical record, including, among other things, all oral and written requests for an aid-in-dying drug.

This bill would allow for an individual to qualify for aid-in-dying medication by making 2 oral requests a minimum of 48 hours apart. The bill would eliminate the requirement that an individual who is prescribed and ingests aid-in-dying medication make a final attestation. The bill would require that the date of all oral and written requests be documented in an individual’s medical record and would require that upon a transfer of care, that record be provided to the qualified individual. The bill would extend the operation of the act until January 1, 2031, thereby imposing a state-mandated local program by extending the operation of crimes for specified violations of the act.

Existing law makes participation in activities authorized pursuant to the act voluntary, and makes individual health care providers immune from liability for refusing to engage in activities authorized pursuant to its provisions, including providing information about the act or referring an individual to a provider who prescribes aid-in-dying medication.

This bill would require a health care provider who is unable or unwilling to participate under the act to inform the individual seeking an aid-in-dying medication that they do not participate, document the date of the individual’s request and the provider’s notice of their objection, and transfer their relevant medical record upon request.

Existing law authorizes a health care provider to prohibit its employees, independent contractors, or other persons or entities, including other health care providers, from participating under the act, including acting as a consulting physician, while on the premises owned or under the management or direct control of that prohibiting health care provider, or while acting within the course and scope of any employment by, or contract with, the prohibiting health care provider.

This bill would instead authorize a health care entity to prohibit employees and contractors, as specified, from participating under the act while on the entity’s premises or in the course of their employment. The bill would prohibit a health care provider or health care entity from engaging in false, misleading, or deceptive practices relating to their willingness to qualify an individual or provide a prescription for an aid-in-dying medication to a qualified individual. The bill would require a health care entity to post its current policy regarding medical aid in dying on its internet website.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

To read the full text, and compare the original and amended versions, visit California’s Legislative Info page here.