How would you like to die? This isn’t academic – dying is personal. And if you were suffering after your 80 or 90 years on this planet, would you like an escape route?

The first tenant of the Hippocratic oath is “first do no harm.”

But the original version went beyond that to “I will not administer poison to anyone when asked to do so, nor suggest such a course.”

 That’s putting California physicians since 2016 in uncomfortable places.

Jessica Nutik Zitter, a palliative and critical care physician at Highland Hospital in Oakland, was faced with that and wrote recently in The New York Times Sunday Review of the first time one of her patients asked her to help him end his life.

California was the fourth state to pass a law allowing physician aided dying. Oregon was first 20 years ago, followed by Washington and Vermont. Colorado passed a similar act last November.

Zitter noted one of her colleagues asked her, since she was a palliative care physician, if she could help with a patient who had asked about the End of Life Option Act.

“Since palliative care medicine focuses on the treatment of all forms of suffering in serious illness, my colleague assumed that I would know what to do with this request. I didn’t,” she wrote.

The law sets some criteria: patients must be adults expected to die within six months who are able to self-administer the drugs and retain the mental capacity to make a decision to end their life.

The rest is left up to hospitals and doctors – what’s the protocol, what is the composition of the lethal cocktail. (…) Read Full Article Here

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