The California End of Life Option Act went into effect on June 9, 2016. This law allows a terminally-ill adult, California resident to request a drug from his or her physician that will end his or her life. People who choose to end their lives this way, and who carefully follow the steps in the law, will not be considered to have committed suicide. Physicians who prescribe the aid-in-dying drug and follow all the steps of the law, will not be subject to legal liability or professional sanction. Participating in this end-of-life option is voluntary for both patients and physicians.
Who can use this option?
To receive the aid-in-dying drug, a person must:
How does a patient obtain aid in dying?
In brief, the steps that the patient and physician must complete are as follows:
This is just a brief description of the steps. More detailed information on each step can be found on UCLA’s End of Life Option Act: Resources and Materials page.
The End of Life Option Act at UCLA
People come to UCLA for innovative treatments for advanced disease. The more advanced the illness, the greater the importance of ensuring that patients’ goals guide the treatments they receive. This ensures that the most intensive treatments aim to achieve an outcome the patient desires, and it also means nimble re-orientation toward comfort-oriented treatment if the prognosis worsens and focus sets on a different set of goals. This requires in-depth, deliberate conversations between patients and their physicians. These conversations must include the possibility of aiming for comfort, palliative care and the value of hospice. For patients receiving intensive treatments for advanced illness, as well as for those focusing on comfort, UCLA aims to enhance the experience of patients and families toward the end of life. This means exploring meaning, coming together and making the most of this final phase.
For some patients, having a terminal condition means wanting to take control. At times, symptoms or suffering might become overwhelming. UCLA Health aims to ensure that symptom management and supportive care are always a priority, although we realize that in rare cases medicine’s ability to control suffering might be overmatched. Under these unusual circumstances, the End of Life Option Act permits a willing physician to respond to an eligible patient’s request with a prescription for an aid-in-dying medication.
At UCLA, our process also includes a clinical consultant who works to fulfill the patient’s request while at the same time ensuring that UCLA is providing the best possible treatment and affording the patient maximal support for the best experience at the end of life.
If you are a UCLA patient, ask your physician about your treatment options. Your UCLA physician is dedicated to making sure that your treatment matches your goals. If you have questions, you also can call the Simms/Mann–UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology at (310) 794-6644 or you may call UCLA Care Coordination at (310) 267-9702 and indicate your interest in the End of Life Option Act.
For more detailed information on each step, required forms, step-by-step guidelines for patients and healthcare providers, or more background information on the Act itself, please visit UCLA’s End of Life Option Act: Resources and Materials.