Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study finds most Oregon hospices do not fully participate in the Death with Dignity Act

A survey in the latest issue of the Hastings Center Report found that most hospices in Oregon, the first state to legalize physician-assistance in dying, either do not participate in or have limited participation in requests for such assistance. Both legal and moral reasons are identified.

This finding is significant because hospices are considered important for assuring that physician-assisted death is carried out responsibly, write the authors, Courtney S. Campbell, the Hundere Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University, and Jessica C. Cox, the Hundere Program Assistant and a second year graduate student at Oregon State. Most patients in Oregon who choose physician-assisted death are enrolled in hospice care. Hospices' role is largely confined to providing information about the law in a neutral manner, the study found. Patients must then work on their own to find physicians who are willing to help them die.

The survey report was based on responses from 55 hospice programs in Oregon, or 86 percent of the total. It compared their policy statements, program guidelines, and staff education materials to address patient inquiries about the Death with Dignity Act. The act, passed in 1995, permits physicians to prescribe a fatal dose of medication to a terminally ill patient who requests it, as long as several criteria are met. Twenty-five percent of the hospices surveyed did not participate in the law at all and 27 percent had limited participation, meaning that when patients asked about physician-assisted death a staff member merely referred them to the attending physician without any conversation.

All of the hospices prohibited staff from helping patients obtain and take medications to end their lives. Few of the programs had a policy allowing staff to be with patients when they took life-ending medication.

The study identified legal and moral reasons for these restrictions. Since Oregon's Death with Dignity Act sanctions aid in dying from a physician only, a compassionate hospice staff member who offers assistance risks violating laws against assisting suicide, mercy killing, active euthanasia, or homicide. Certain values also inhibit hospices from participating more fully in physician-assisted death. "Core values (such as commitments not to abandon patients and to neither hasten nor postpone death) are necessarily in tension and do not lend themselves to a clear consensual conclusion for hospice providers," the authors write.

The authors conclude that hospices can avoid the legal and moral obstacles by adopting a position of "studied neutrality," which recognizes a diversity of views among providers and patients about physician-assisted death and encourages open discussion about the issue. "This approach can bring much-needed dialogue and transparency to a process that is unnecessarily opaque, permit hospice programs to acknowledge tensions in their core values, and promote efforts to assure congruence among values, policies, and procedures," they write.

Michael Turton | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>