On October 5, 2015, the California legislature passed the “End of Life Option Act” (the “Act”), which permits physicians to prescribe an aid-in-dying medication to terminally-ill patients. The Act is set to take effect on June 9, 2016. While health care providers will be obliged to give terminally-ill patients information about their end of life options, including their right to request aid-in-dying medication, provider participation in the Act is completely voluntary. Furthermore, healthcare organizations have a limited ability to actively prohibit their employees and independent contractors from participating in certain end of life activities authorized by the Act.
This blog post will provide physicians with a brief overview of their rights and obligations under the Act. The information herein will be of particular import to medical groups as they navigate service agreements with healthcare partners that wish to opt-out of the Act.