Can you tell me what states have a Death with Dignity Act?

Providing for end-of-life care has become more and more important over the years. About 25% of Medicare dollars are used in the last year of life, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Six states currently have a Death with Dignity or End of Life Options act. These states are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont and Washington (and the District of Columbia).

An individual who lives in these states can choose to receive a prescription for a lethal dose of medication under designated circumstances. I also understand that nursing facilities in these states who have not honored the wishes of the person choosing this have been subject to legal liability.

Research shows that most elderly people do not want to die in a hospital, and even more prefer not to be hospitalized near the end of their life. The new regulations, which went into effect on Nov. 28, 2017, support the resident’s right to make choices for his or her end of life.

The ability of the dying resident to control decisions including his or her daily care, hospitalizations and routines is a focus. Advance care planning becomes even more important, to ensure the resident’s wishes continue to be met as his or her needs change.

Making sure the entire interdisciplinary team, resident and family are kept up to date on the changes as they occur, and that everyone focuses on what the dying resident would like, is important.

The focus should be on providing end-of-life care, and what residents want for themselves and their loved ones. This is no time to try to change anyone’s mind. It is to make their needs known, and make them comfortable for their end of life.