Death with Dignity Act
September 26, 2011
Death with Dignity Act
In Washington State, the people voted and passed a law to legalize assisted suicide, called Death with Dignity Act in 2009. This law is for terminally ill patients, diagnosed by their physician to have less than six months to live. There are several steps before the patient is allowed to receive the medication for assisted suicide .“The patient must be a resident of the state, be at least eighteen years old, declared mentally competent to make the request, and two doctors have to certify that he or she has less than six months to live” ( Medical News Today, 2009 ).
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At Franciscan Health Systems, they have a policy stating: “We respect the rights of patients and care providers to discuss and explore all treatment options, but to respect and adhere to the policy put into place of the opposition to assisted suicide while the patients are undergoing health care treatment in our facilities”( Franciscan Health System, 2009 ). Many health care facilities are opting to only allow physicians to prescribe the lethal medication off site, example like Virginia Mason Medical Center, is one of the health care facility that is in the middle ground, they will not allow assisted suicide in the inpatient hospital but the providers can receive the lethal dosage in the outpatients clinic. The health care facilities should put the patients and families that want to use Death with Dignity Act, to help them find providers that will work with them, giving them the options of continue with life or assisted suicide.
There have been many discussion of the legal aspect of the patient and the health care provider, the requirements for requesting Death by Dignity is very vague. The law requires the patient to be a resident, over eighteen, less then six month to live and be of mental capicity. The problem is who determines the mental capicity of the patient and to estiminate the life span of the terminally ill patient. These are some of the legal issues being interupted in the courts. “The first difficulty is assessing the capacity of the patient is so vague and no one have specified how to assess the the terminally ill patient(Werth & Farrenkopf, 2000). Many health care facilities are requiring the patient to have a panel psychologist assess the patient to determine whether to patient is able to comprehend their medical treatments. “If the expert witness demonstrate that the clinican has not done a thorough job investigating the capacity to make this decision he or she will be charged with ethical and legal liability for failure to meet the standard of care”(Werth & Farrenkopf, 2000). Due to the legal complications...