(BIVN) – As of New Year’s Day, medical-aid-in-dying is legal in the State of Hawai‘i.
Residents with a terminal illness and six months or fewer to live may now request prescriptions under the Our Care, Our Choice Act, which was signed into law by Governor David Ige in early 2018. The new law covers strict eligibility criteria and safeguards to ensure a secure, compassionate and patient-centered end-of-life process, state officials say. There are also additional regulatory requirements to address concerns about misuse.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Health launched a new page on its website where all required forms, instructions and frequently asked questions can be accessed.
“We hope these online resources give patients and providers the guidance and tools they need to utilize the Our Care, Our Choice Act,” said Lorrin Kim, chief of DOH’s Office of Planning, Policy and Program Development. “Our goal is to facilitate the process and create a one-stop shop that allows people to navigate the process safely and follow the requirements of the law.”
A New Years Eve news release from the Dept. of health outlined the guidance:
on December 31, 2018
Guidance for Patients
DOH offers the following recommendations to patients who wish to receive a medical-aid-in-dying prescription in Hawai‘i:
1. Concurrently enroll in hospice care. Hospice programs offer the highest level of end-of-life care to effectively manage symptoms and provide assistance to family members of patients.
2. Inform and designate a person to follow up on your behalf. The Our Care, Our Choice Act does not require patients to inform family members of their decision; however, after the patient takes the medication, the completed final attestation form must be returned to the attending physician. Additionally, the designated persons should safely dispose of any remaining medications.
3. Talk to your health plan about cost and coverage of the prescription. The law is silent on how much medical-aid-in-dying prescriptions will cost and does not address supply and demand issues. Federal laws may prohibit some programs from participating.
Guidance for Providers
DOH encourages providers to be familiar with the forms and processes required by law. Practitioners should have a sound understanding of their organization’s policies so they are equipped to provide their patients with the best and most appropriate care possible.
Several Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses will be made available to educate medical professionals and stakeholders over the next few months. The schedule of upcoming courses is as follows:
Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019
Time: 8 – 11:30 a.m.
Host: Hawai‘i Society of Clinical Oncology
Location: University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center
More information & registration: https://bit.ly/2Af0Q4Y
Friday, Feb. 1, 2019
Time: 1 – 4:45 p.m.
Host/Location: The Queen’s Medical Center
More information & registration: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019
Time: 9 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
Host/Location: University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine
More information & registration: email email@example.com
The Hilo community learned about the details of the new law back in October of 2018, during a presentation at the Aging and Disability Resource Center.
Compassion & Choices Hawaiʻi, the the nonprofit organization committed to improving care and expanding choice, says it will hold a press conference with health officials and state legislators on January 2 to announce the official implementation of the Our Care, Our Choice Act.
At the press conference, John Radcliffe, a terminally ill resident of Honolulu, is expected to announce that he is poised to become the first patient in Hawai‘i to request a prescription for medical aid-in-dying medication. Radcliffe has advocated for the legislation since his terminal cancer diagnosis in 2014.
In Waimea on the evening of January 3, Katherine Werner, Executive Director of North Hawai’i Hospice, will review “the carefully designed requirements mandated by the new law for an individual who must first be diagnosed with a terminal illness and determined to have six months or less to live and be of sound mind, able to make this kind of decision,” the Waimea Community Association says. Werner also will introduce Katherine Cross, a long-time Waimea resident who is Hospice’s new Volunteer Manager. It is part of a larger agenda at the meeting, set for 5:15 p.m. at the Waimea School Cafeteria.