Three states now have laws allowing physicians to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients. These laws in Oregon, Vermont and Washington — and similar proposals elsewhere — have generated heated debates about quality end-of-life care, medical ethics, patient autonomy and the sanctity of life.
Most of that conversation has centered on the physician’s role, the potential for elder abuse and whether patients seeking doctors’ aid in dying are mentally ill. Yet there is another health care setting — hospice care — that plays a central role in how death-with-dignity laws are enacted but that has been largely ignored, said an article in July’s Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.
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