OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington's Death with Dignity Act would be more accessible to terminally ill people under proposed modifications currently under Senate consideration.
The result of voter-approved Initiative 1000, which went into effect in March 2009, allows terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to legally request lethal doses of medication to end their lives.
Between 2009 and 2018, more than 1,500 people have chosen death with dignity in the state. Washington is one of eight states, plus the District of Columbia, that have death with dignity laws.
Under the proposed changes, advanced registered nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and osteopathic physician assistants would be allowed to prescribe lethal doses of prescription medications to terminally ill patients who make the request.
Patients who request lethal doses of medication must make the request twice. However, under the proposed bill, it would reduce the required 15-day waiting period between requests to three days.
The bill would also prohibit health care providers from stopping employees from participating in the act as long as it was done off premise and on their own time.
Finally, medications could be mailed or delivered to patients and allow health care providers to file prescription information with the Department of Health via fax or email.