End Of Life Option Act – Law For Administering Prescription Drug (Pt 3)

Hi there. My name is Bridget Mackay, I’m an attorney in Petaluma, California, and I practice in the area of estate planning and elder law. You are joining me for part three of a four-part series on the End of Life Option Act, which California is implementing on June 9th, 2016.

We’ve covered the basics, we’ve covered about how you get the right-to-die prescription, and now we’re going to talk about how this prescription is administered. If you have reached all of the other requirements needed in the act, your doctor then can prescribe the end-of-life option drugs. Your doctor must assess whether you, the person requesting it, has the physical and mental ability to self-administer the lethal drug.

Then a second physician must confirm that same diagnosis, and that the patient’s capacity to make these medical decisions before a prescription can be filled. So the law makes clear in the act that we’re not legalizing euthanasia. Patients must be able to take the life-ending drugs themselves. A final attestation is required within 48 hours before the medication is used, confirming that the patient is choosing to do this to themselves. Then following the application of the drugs and the death of the patient, that form must be given to the prescribing physician who prescribes the drugs, or if it didn’t take place, the drugs must be returned.

Family and friends who are present for the administering, self-administration of the drugs by the patient for the death are cleared of liability, and someone can prepare the medication but they are not allowed to help the patient ingest it. That’s a clear distinction in the law. A family member or caregiver can prepare the drugs but the patient has to be able to self-administer it or ingest it themselves. That is, how is the prescription administered.

Part four is next. We’re going to talk about what are some of the protections under this act for the patient and others, and what’s been built into this law. Stay tuned because June 9th is coming up and it brings up a lot of ethical, medical, and social issues with the Right-to-Die Options Act.

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