The End of Life Option Act takes effect on June 9: What physicians and patients need to know

May 25, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: End of Life Issues 

On June 9, 2016, California will become the fifth state in the nation to allow physicians to prescribe terminally ill patients medication to end their lives. California's new "End of Life Option Act" permits terminally ill adult patients with the capacity to make medical decisions to be prescribed an aid-in-dying medication if certain conditions are met. Recognizing the complexity of this new law, the California Medical Association (CMA) has published legal guidance in a question-and-answer format intended to help physicians and patients understand and navigate the law's requirements. The 15-page document addresses straightforward questions and identifies issues that are not yet resolved.


“As physicians, there are a lot of questions about requirements under the new law, required documentation and forms, requests for the drug, consulting physicians and so on,” said CMA President Steven E. Larson, M.D., MPH. “There certainly will be areas that evolve as we look to best practices in areas like which drugs to prescribe, but this is a resource to help us all navigate the new landscape.”



This resource – On-Call document #3459, "The California End of Life Option Act” – is free through CMA’s online health law library at https://www.cmadocs.org/health-law-library.



CMA is also hosting a webinar, "The California End of Life Option Act: An Overview," on Wednesday, June 1, from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. The webinar will review the requirements of the act, who qualifies to participate, what is required if a physician opts out, and what the documentation and reporting obligations are. This webinar will also discuss the importance of palliative and hospice care services as well as advance care planning, tools and resources. The webinar is free to all interested parties, regardless of their membership status. Click here to register.



CMA removed longstanding opposition to physician aid-in-dying last May and took a neutral position on the End of Life Option Act (ABX2 15).



CMA encourages Californians to think and talk with loved ones about their wishes for end-of-life medical care before a serious illness or injury occurs. CMA has developed a number of guidelines, forms and other resources to assist providers, patients, and loved ones with making important end-of-life decisions.



Contact: CMA legal information line, (800) 786-4262 or legalinfo@cmadocs.org.



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