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Oregon Medical Board, Death with Dignity Safeguards Protect Patients

Compassion & Choices today responded to the Oregon Medical Board’s suspension of Dr. Stuart G. Weisberg’s medical license. Dr. Weisberg had proposed to open a private, for-profit facility to offer physician aid in dying.

Patient safety, ensured by precautions in the Death with Dignity Act (DWDA) would have prevented Dr. Weisberg, a psychiatrist, from serving as an attending (prescribing) physician, “the physician who has primary responsibility for the care of the patient and treatment of the patient’s terminal disease.” Neither could he have been a consulting physician, “qualified by specialty or experience to make a professional diagnosis and prognosis regarding the patient’s disease.” ORS 127.800 s.1.01. A psychiatrist does not have the expertise necessary to treat or diagnose a terminal illness.

“Law enforcement and professional oversight are in place to ensure no individual tries to practice outside the law or established standard of practice,” said Barbara Coombs Lee, President of Compassion & Choices. “The Oregon Medical Board made the right move suspending Dr. Weisberg’s license for past violations improperly prescribing drugs. Additional safeguards would have prevented him from prescribing under the DWDA.”

“We understand a proposal like this attracts attention,” said Coombs Lee, “but aid in dying is legal in Oregon. It is part of the standard of practice along with other end-of-life care options. After twelve years, the DWDA is working as the voters of Oregon intended. Individuals can take control of their dying if suffering becomes intolerable. They usually choose to do so among the people they love in their own homes. Oregonians don’t need and don’t seem to much want the kind of setting Dr. Weisberg proposed. The rest of what he proposed to offer is illegal.”

Read the press release here>>