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CA End of Life Option Act Advocate Praises UCLA Implementation Guidance

Group Cites Its Education Campaign for CA Residents and Medical Providers

(Los Angeles, Calif. – May 19, 2016) Compassion & Choices praised a study released today by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research on implementation guidance on California’s End of Life Option Act that takes effect on June 9. The study, “Implementing Aid in Dying in California: Experiences from Other States Indicates the Need for Strong Implementation Guidance,” concludes the new law: “presents a unique opportunity to make end-of-life care in California more person-centered.”

“Just as the UCLA report recommends, we are using our experience working in other states where medical aid in dying is authorized to educate California medical providers, terminally ill adults and families about all end-of-life care options to make the law’s implementation as smooth as possible,” said Kat West, national director of policy and programs at Compassion & Choices. “Our only significant disagreement is over the recommendation that state officials collect more data than the law requires. Our experience indicates this recommendation would create unnecessary barriers and potentially intimidate terminally ill Californians and doctors into not accessing the law.”

Compassion & Choices agrees with and is helping to carry out the following recommendations in the UCLA study:

Improve end-of-life care generally

“Professional organizations and health-care provider organizations should use the legalization of AID as an opportunity to improve all forms of person-centered care at the end of life … Studies have found that … removing barriers to all end-of-life options improves patient-centered care.”

Educational outreach

“Professional and provider organizations should engage in educational programs for providers, state officials, and the general public. The general public lacks an understanding of the range of options at the end of life. A public education campaign may also improve shared decision making by providing patients with a language for discussing their preferences and needs … Health care providers from a diversity of professional backgrounds would also benefit from continued education on how to discuss end-of-life concerns.”

Training for providers

“Training could increase providers’ comfort and competency in discussing AID as well as hospice, palliative care, and the discontinuation of curative efforts. Such training could be enhanced by bringing experienced clinicians from states already practicing AID to California to lead trainings on AID practice.”

Compassion & Choices is taking the following steps to fulfill these recommendations:

In January, Compassion & Choices launched a statewide bilingual California Access Campaign to educate terminally ill Californians, families and medical providers about the benefits and requirements of the state’s medical aid-in-dying law. The organization is partnering with and providing technical assistance to medical centers, hospice facilities, community health centers and nonprofit organizations to ensure Californians understand medical aid in dying is a trusted medical practice and legitimate end-of-life care option. Here is a new video explaining the campaign: bit.ly/CaAccessVideo

California residents, physicians and pharmacists can call Compassion & Choices’ free hotline, 800.893.4548, to access information on the End of Life Option Act. Other resources are available at www.EndOfLifeoption.org. Physicians can speak to doctors with years of experience in end-of-life care options, including medical aid in dying, by calling Compassion & Choices’ free, confidential Doc2Doc consultation line: 800.247.7421.