Monday, April 12, 2021

Doctor responds to Washington State assisted suicide law expansion Bill.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Great news: The Washington State assisted suicide expansion Bill HB 1141 is dead. 

Washington State House Bill 1141, would have expanded the assisted suicide law by:
  • Expanding the list of who can prescribe lethal drugs by changing the requirement from physicians to "qualified medical provider." A "qualified medical provider" is defined as a physician, or a licensed physician assistant, or a osteopathic physician, or and advanced registered nurse practitioner. 
  • Expanding the list of who is legally able to counsel a person, when the qualified medical provider questions the ability of the person to consent. Those who are permitted to offer counseling include: a state licensed psychiatrist or, psychologist, independent clinical social worker, advanced social worker, mental health counselor, or psychiatric advanced registered nurse practitioner.
  • Eliminating the 15 day waiting period within the law and replaces it with a 72 hour waiting period before the second request is made. The 72 hour request period can be rescinded if the qualified medical provider believes that the person may be imminently dying. 
  • Allowing the lethal prescription to be delivered to the person, rather than requiring the lethal drugs to be accessed by the person who is approved to die or the physician.

HB 1141 expands the assisted suicide law by eliminating the waiting period, making it possible for a same day death. A person can request and potentially receive lethal drugs on the same day. Studies prove that a person's will to live will fluctuate. Your bad day becomes your last day.

Dr Sharon Quick
Dr Sharon Quick was published in the Tacoma Tribune telling legislatives to give House Bill 1141 a death without dignity.

Quick who is a pediatric anesthesiologist/critical care physician with expertise in pain management and care for dying patients. Quick comments on the Tribune editorial which questioned the reduction in the waiting period for assisted suicide. Quick points out that all of the provisions in the bill need to be questioned. Quick wrote:
House Bill 1141 would shorten the waiting period to receive lethal drugs from 15 days to 72 hours and eliminate it when life expectancy is less than 72 hours.

Two professionals perform the initial evaluation, but under this bill only one provider, even a non-physician, would need to make the complex determination that a patient has 72 hours to live. It would allow the participation of advanced registered nurse practitioners, physician assistants and osteopathic physician assistants.

Physicians, much less those with less experience, cannot reliably make a 72-hour or a six-month prediction. A 72-hour prognosis indicates a person is in the dying process with failing organs and questionable cognitive capacity to make life-ending decisions. Lethal overdoses are unnecessary and ill-advised.
Quick comments on the reasons why people seek a hastened death:
Patients requesting a hastened death usually do not cite concerns about pain but about loss of abilities or autonomy — issues experienced by everyone at some point. The disability community knows “new normals” can be embraced when given sufficient time and support.

A physician’s role is to value patients’ inherent dignity, regardless of their condition. This benevolent responsibility turns malevolent when physicians offer lethal drugs to terminally ill patients — who may be in reversible, temporary despair —within a short time frame of 72 hours.
Quick then comments on depression and the need for mental health counselling:
Depression is expected in 25 to 40 percent of those desiring to hasten death, yet less than 5 percent are referred for mental health counseling in Washington.

Physicians are likely missing the diagnosis of depression, and patients are inappropriately receiving lethal prescriptions. Yet this bill proposes lowering evaluators’ qualifications?
Quick concludes her article by urging legislators to reject HB 1141 and to focus on better options such as improving the deficient oversight of the current law and ensuring good palliative care.

More articles on HB 1141:

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah! Way to go! So good to hear - a doctor that is able to articulate what is going on within the medical profession and with patients and depression. Thank you, Dr. Quick. We need more doctors like that to be heard in Canada by our leaders, in our government.