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California Medical Association issues guidance for End of Life Option Act

January 20, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: End of Life Issues Patient Care 

The California Medical Association (CMA) has updated its health law library with a new “On-Call” document intended to help physicians and patients understand the End of Life Option Act, which was passed in 2015 and makes physician aid-in-dying legal in California.


“CMA was fielding calls from not only our members, but the general public about what the End of Life Option Act means and how it will impact care moving forward,” said CMA General Counsel Francisco Silva. “We offer these resources as a member benefit regularly, but in this case, we wanted to make the document public and available to anyone through our website.”


The document is in a question-and-answer format, and is intended to help both physicians and patients navigate the complicated law, which will go into effect 90 days after the special session of the California state legislature ends.


“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 Steve Larson, M.D. “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.”


Throughout the 15-page document, both straightforward questions as well as those without answers yet are included, and acknowledge that the resource will evolve as the law goes into effect. CMA's health law library is the most comprehensive health law and medical practice resource for California physicians and contains On-Call documents with up-to-date information including current laws, regulations and court decisions related to the practice of medicine. On-Call documents are generally a benefit for CMA members and are available for sale to the public; however, On-Call document #3459 , "The California End of Life Option Act," is free through CMA’s website.


“We felt this was an important resource for people to have access to, free of charge,” added Silva. “This is a complicated issue and both physicians and patients should have access to answers that help further the patient-physician relationship.”


The California Medical Association removed longstanding opposition to physician aid-in-dying last May and took a neutral position on the End of Life Option Act, Senate Bill 128.

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