While there are some variations among the different jurisdictions, Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act is the model for the legal provisions and requirements that apply to patients and physicians. These provisions and requirements typically include:
- Residency in the jurisdiction
- A six-month-or-less terminal prognosis from a prescribing doctor who also confirms the patient’s capacity to make their own medical decisions
- A waiting period, followed by examination by a second consulting doctor, who must confirm the prognosis and capacity to make medical decisions
- Referral for a psychological exam if either doctor believes the patient’s judgment may be impaired
- One or more written requests for MAID
- And the capacity to self-administer the drugs that will end their life.
Variations among jurisdictions sometimes include such things as a requirement to provide information on alternatives such as pain management, hospice care, etc., and a recommendation that the patient advise next of kin of their intentions.
There are various other provisions, such as reporting prescriptions for the lethal medication to the related health authorities; control of medication that is prescribed and received by the patient but never used; guidelines and protections for pharmacists; protection of physicians from criminal prosecution if they adhere to the requirements; and protection of the patient against any impact on their health and life insurance policies.
Typically, legislation regarding MAID will make the distinction between medical aid in dying and suicide, euthanasia, and homicide. The patient’s death certificate will define the cause of death as being the underlying terminal illness, not the lethal medication used to end their life.