What is Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act?
The Death with Dignity Act allows terminally ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications prescribed by a doctor expressly for that purpose.
Who can participate?
A patient must be:
- 18 years of age or older
- An Oregon resident
- Capable of making and communicating health care decisions for him/herself
- Diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months, as determined by two doctors.
Can a patient take their Death with Dignity medication while staying at the hospital?
No, doctors may choose to participate or not. Some employers may prohibit doctors from participating in this process. A doctor must be an MD or DO licensed in Oregon.
How does a patient get a prescription from a participating physician?
- The patient must make two verbal requests to the attending physician, separated by at least 15 days.
- The patient must provide a written request to the attending physician, signed in the presence of two witnesses, at least one of whom is not related to the patient.
- The attending physician and a consulting physician must confirm the patient’s diagnosis and prognosis.
- The attending physician and the consulting physician must determine whether the patient is capable of making and communicating health care decisions for him/herself.
- If either physician believes the patient’s judgment is impaired by a psychiatric or psychological disorder (such as depression), the patient must be referred to a psychological examination.
- The attending physician must inform the patient of feasible alternatives to the Act, including comfort care, hospice care and pain control.
- The attending physician must request, but may not require, the patient to notify their next-of-kin of the prescription request.
Must a physician be present?
The law does not require the presence of a physician. The patient self-administers the prescribed medication; it is not administered by the physician. A physician may be in attendance if the patient wishes it.
If a patient’s doctor does not participate in the Death with Dignity Act, how can he/she get a prescription?
The patient must find another doctor (MD or DO) who is licensed to practice in Oregon and who is willing to participate.
Does insurance cover medical care that is part of the Death with Dignity Act?
As with any medical procedure, insurers will determine what is covered by policy. However, federal funding cannot be used for services rendered under the Death with Dignity Act.
For more information: www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/PROVIDERPARTNERRESOURCES/EVALUATIONRESEARCH/DEATHWITHDIGNITYACT