Monday, February 2, 2009

Death with Dignity Deadline Approaches in Washington

According to The Seattle Times, medical organizations throughout Washington state are struggling with whether to participate in Washington's new Death with Dignity Act.

And whether they decide to participate, they are frantically working to prepare for the March 5 deadline to be ready for implementation. Caregivers must be able to handle questions on the law, be set to refer patients, give out prescriptions if they and their organization are choosing to do so, know their policy on mental-health evaluations, etc.

Oregon, the only other state to legalize death with dignity, ended up with approximately three years to implement their law due to all of the legal challenges brought against it, as this New England Journal of Medicine article pointed out. Since their state's law was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, we're unlikely to end up in a similar situation.

Let's hope for some patience and cool heads during this transition. It's a tight, tight deadline for Washington state. Only four months to put into place a very complicated and very controversial law.

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