The passage of Initiative 1000, the “Washington State Death with Dignity Act”, has raised many questions for physicians, pharmacists, counselors and hospitals statewide.

The “Death with Dignity” Act affects terminally ill, competent, adult Washington State residents medically predicted to die within six months. It allows these patients to request and self-administer a lethal dose of medication prescribed by a physician. The act requires patients to make two oral and one written request to participate. Two physicians must diagnose the patient and conclude that he or she will die within six months. The two physicians must also determine if the patient is competent and verify that the patient has made an informed decision. There is a mandatory waiting period of 15 days before the medication can be prescribed. Only the patient may administer the drugs to him or herself. Every patient has the opportunity to rescind the request.

After careful thought, Northwest Hospital has decided that a patient’s or provider’s participation in the “Death With Dignity” Act is his or her own choice. The hospital will not interfere with the patient-provider relationship, nor with any treatment plans the patient and provider have mutually agreed to pursue.

Northwest Hospital will not manage, prescribe, dispense or administer, or allow patients to self-administer, life-ending medication during their hospital stay.

We recognize that end-of-life decisions are difficult and it is our goal to help patients and their families make informed decisions about end-of-life care. We are happy to provide information on many end-of-life options, including advance directives, hospice care and pain control, as well as grief counseling, spiritual care and other resources.

Should you or a family member wish to participate in the “Death With Dignity” Act, we encourage you to speak with your physician.

For more information about the “Death With Dignity” Act, visit the Washington State Hospital Association or King County Public Health website.