The Maine Death with Dignity Act provides a structured, legal process and standard of care by which qualified people may request and receive life-ending medication from their physician(s) under specific circumstances.
The law states:
“A patient has a right to information regarding all treatment options reasonably available for the care of the patient, including, but not limited to, information in response to specific questions about the foreseeable risks and benefits of medication, without a physician’s withholding requested information regardless of the purpose of the questions or the nature of the information.”
This includes asking for information about the Maine Death with Dignity Act. You and your family have a right to make an informed decision. The law defines “informed decision” thus:
“Informed decision” means a decision by a qualified patient to request and obtain a prescription for medication that the qualified patient may self-administer to end the qualified patient’s life in a humane and dignified manner that is based on an appreciation of the relevant facts and that is made after being fully informed by the attending physician of:
(1) The qualified patient’s medical diagnosis;
(2) The qualified patient’s prognosis;
(3) The potential risks associated with taking the medication to be prescribed;
(4) The probable result of taking the medication to be prescribed; and
(5) The feasible alternatives to taking the medication to be prescribed, including palliative care and comfort care, hospice care, pain control and disease-directed treatment options.
The Maine Death with Dignity Act is a codified medical standard of care for end-of-life options and, as such, is available for those who qualify. Speak to your physician(s) if you believe you qualify or may qualify.
In order to qualify, a patient must:
- Be an adult (18 yrs or older) resident of Maine.
- Be diagnosed with a terminal disease and have a six month prognosis, confirmed by attending and consulting physicians.
- Be of sound mind.
- Be making an informed decision (as defined in statute).
- Be capable of self-ingesting the medication.
Forms and More Info
Physicians willing and able to support a person’s decision under the Maine Death with Dignity Act have specific procedural requirements codified in the law. Physicians may have additional policy guidelines depending on their employer policy.
A physician check-sheet is available to help guide the process (click here).
Patient Written Request Form (click here)
Patient Interpreter Form (click here)
All State forma and information are available here.
The Maine Death with Dignity Act does not require physicians or other providers to participate in supporting a person’s decision to hasten their own death:
“Nothing in this Act requires a health care provider to provide medication to a qualified patient to end the qualified patient’s life. If a health care provider is unable or unwilling to carry out the qualified patient’s request under this Act, the health care provider shall transfer any relevant medical records for the patient to a new health care provider upon request by the patient.”
For physicians and providers who do not participate, the Maine Death with Dignity Act does require a physician to provide a referral to a physician who will support the person’s decision to qualify, when the patient requests the referral. Referring a patient to another physician for the purpose of accessing the Maine Death with Dignity Act is not considered “participating in the Act.”
Contact us if you need more information.