The Maine Death with Dignity Act provides a structured, legal process by which qualified patients may request and receive life-ending medication from their attending physician under specific circumstances.
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 your attending and consulting physicians.
- Be of sound mind.
- Be making an informed decision (as defined in statute).
- Be capable of ingesting the medication on your own without assistance.
- Submit two verbal requests separated by a minimum of 15 days.
- Submit your witnessed, written request (may be submitted at the time of the second verbal request).
- Wait an additional 48 hours after the written request is submitted to receive the prescription if you have qualified.
It is important to know exactly what you are requesting. All patients and their supporting family members should read the law in it’s entirety.
Read the full text of the law (click here and enter search for Chapter 271).
Forms and More Info
Maine Death with Dignity encourages you to have early conversations with your physician(s) about all of your end of life concerns and desires, so you will know well in advance whether your will be supported in the way you want if or when you become ill.
While you may speak with a physician at any time regarding Maine’s new law, it is important to note that the formal request process does not start until you are diagnosed with a terminal disease and given a prognosis of six months or less. Then your request for life-ending medication under the Maine Death with Dignity Act must be initiated by you, the patient, in both verbal and written formats, with time delays in between.
Your written request must be “substantially in the form of” that which appears in the law. The State of Maine developed a form to ensure your request is in compliance, and while you are not required to use this exact form, it does contain everything you need to meet the requirements of the law:
Request for Medication to End My Life in a Humane and Dignified Manner (click here).
Interpreter attachment form as needed (click here)
Attending and consulting physicians willing and able to support your decision under the Death with Dignity Act have specific procedural requirements codified in the law, and if supporting, they will physician will work with you through these steps.
A physician check-sheet is available to help you understand the process outline (click here).
Your physician may have additional policy guidelines, depending on who employs them.
All applicable forms may be found on the Maine Department of Health and Human Services website under forms for vital statistics (click here).
If you, your family, or your members of your care team have questions about implementing the Maine Death with Dignity Act, please contact us.
The Maine Death with Dignity Act does not require physicians or other providers to participate in supporting patients’ decisions 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.”