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Medical-aid-in-dying law gets a web page

State DOH sets up site to answer questions, provide required forms

The Maui News

The Hawaii medical-aid-in-dying law took effect Tuesday, and the state Health Department has set up a new page on its website with information, required forms, instructions and frequently asked questions.

The “Our Care, Our Choice Act” page can be found at health.hawaii.gov/opppd/ococ/.

The law, passed by the state Legislature last March and signed by Gov. David Ige in April, allows Hawaii residents with a terminal illness and six months or less to live to request medical-aid-in-dying prescriptions.

The law includes strict eligibility criteria and safeguards to ensure a secure, compassionate and patient-centered end-of-life process. There also are regulatory requirements to address concerns about misuse, the Health Department said Monday.

“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 the Health Department’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.”

The Health Department offers the following recommendations to patients who wish to receive a medical-aid-in-dying prescription:

• 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.

• Inform and designate a person to follow up. The Our Care, Our Choice Act does not require patients to inform family members of their decision. However, after the patient takes the medication, a completed final attestation form must be returned to the attending physician. Additionally, a designated person should safely dispose of any remaining medications.

• Talk to health plan providers 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.

For providers, the Health Department encourages them 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 courses will be offered to educate medical professionals and stakeholders. The schedule of upcoming courses including, dates, times, locations, hosts and registration information, follows:

• Jan. 19, 8 to 11:30 a.m., University of Hawaii Cancer Center, Hawai’i Society of Clinical Oncology, bit.ly/2Af0Q4Y.

• Feb. 1, 1 to 4:45 p.m., The Queen’s Medical Center, email cme@queens.org.

• Feb. 2, 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., UH John A. Burns School of Medicine, email costaca@hawaii.edu.

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