State of Washington 52nd Legislature 1991 Regular Session
By the People of the State of Washington.
AN ACT Relating to the natural death act; and amending RCW 70.122.010, 70.122.020, 70.122.030, 70.122.040, 70.122.050, 70.122.060, 70.122.070, 70.122.080, 70.122.090, 70.122.100, and 70.122.900.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
Sec. 1. RCW 70.122.010 and 1979 c 112 s 2 are each amended to read as follows:
people find(( s)) that adult persons have the fundamental right to
control the decisions relating to the rendering of their own medical care,
including the decision to have all life-sustaining procedures withheld
or withdrawn in instances of a terminal condition, and including the right
to death with dignity through voluntary aid-in-dying if suffering from a
people further find(( s)) that modern medical technology has made
possible the artificial prolongation of human life beyond natural limits.
people further find(( s)) that, in the interest of protecting
individual autonomy, such prolongation of life for persons with a terminal
condition may cause loss of patient dignity, and unnecessary pain and
suffering, while providing nothing medically necessary or beneficial to the
people further find(( s)) that there exists considerable
uncertainty in the medical and legal professions as to the legality of
terminating the use or application of life-sustaining procedures where the
patient has voluntarily and in sound mind evidenced a desire that such
procedures be withheld or withdrawn.
The people further find that existing law does not allow willing physicians to render aid-in-dying to qualified patients who request it.
recognition of the dignity and privacy which patients have a right to expect,
legislature)) people hereby declare(( s)) that the
laws of the state of Washington shall recognize the right of an adult person to
make a written directive instructing such person's physician to withhold or
withdraw life-sustaining procedures in the event of a terminal condition,
and/or to request and receive aid-in-dying under the provisions of this chapter.
Sec. 2. RCW 70.122.020 and 1979 c 112 s 3 are each amended to read as follows:
Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions contained in this section shall apply throughout this chapter.
(1) "Attending physician" means the physician selected by, or assigned to, the patient who has primary responsibility for the treatment and care of the patient.
(2) "Directive" means a written document voluntarily executed by the declarer in accordance with the requirements of RCW 70.122.030.
"Health facility" means a hospital as defined in RCW ((
or)) 70.41.020(2), a nursing home as defined in RCW (( 70.38.020(8)))
18.51.010, or a home health agency or hospice agency as defined in RCW
"Life-sustaining procedure" means any medical or surgical procedure
or intervention which utilizes mechanical or other artificial means to sustain,
restore, or supplant a vital function, which, when applied to a qualified
patient, would serve only to artificially prolong the moment of death ((
where, in the judgment of the attending physician, death is imminent whether or
not such procedures are utilized)). "Life-sustaining procedure" includes,
but is not limited to, cardiac resuscitation, respiratory support, and
artificially administered nutrition and hydration, but shall not include
the administration of medication to relieve pain or the performance of
any medical procedure deemed necessary to alleviate pain.
"Physician" means a person licensed under chapter((
or 18.57 RCW.
(6) "Qualified patient" means a patient diagnosed and certified in writing to be afflicted with a terminal condition by two physicians one of whom shall be the attending physician, who have personally examined the patient.
"Terminal condition" means an incurable ((
condition caused by
injury, disease, or illness, which, regardless of the application of
life-sustaining procedures, would, within reasonable medical judgment, produce
death, and where the application of life-sustaining procedures serve only to
postpone the moment of death of the patient)) or irreversible condition
which, in the written opinion of two physicians having examined the patient and
exercising reasonable medical judgment, will result in death within six months,
or a condition in which the patient has been determined in writing by two
physicians as having no reasonable probability of recovery from an irreversible
coma or persistent vegetative state.
(8) "Adult person" means a person attaining the age of majority as defined in RCW 26.28.010 and 26.28.015.
(9) "Aid-in-dying" means aid in the form of a medical service provided in person by a physician that will end the life of a conscious and mentally competent qualified patient in a dignified, painless and humane manner, when requested voluntarily by the patient through a written directive in accordance with this chapter at the time the medical service is to be provided.
Sec. 3. RCW 70.122.030 and 1979 c 112 s 4 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) Any adult person may execute at any time a directive directing the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures and/or requesting the provision of aid-in-dying when in a terminal condition. The directive shall be signed by the declarer in the presence of two witnesses not related to the declarer by blood or marriage and who would not be entitled to any portion of the estate of the declarer upon declarer's decease under any will of the declarer or codicil thereto then existing or, at the time of the directive, by operation of law then existing. In addition, a witness to a directive shall not be the attending physician, an employee of the attending physician or a health facility in which the declarer is a patient, or any person who has a claim against any portion of the estate of the declarer upon declarer's decease at the time of the execution of the directive. The directive, or a copy thereof, shall be made part of the patient's medical records retained by the attending physician, a copy of which shall be forwarded to the health facility upon the withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures, and/or provision of aid-in-dying. No person shall be required to execute a directive in accordance with this chapter. Any person who has not executed such a directive is ineligible for aid-in-dying under any circumstances. The directive shall be essentially in the following form, but in addition may include other specific directions:
DIRECTIVE TO PHYSICIANS
Directive made this .... day of .......... (month, year).
I .........., being of sound mind, willfully, and voluntarily make known my desire that my life shall not be artificially prolonged under the circumstances set forth below, and do hereby declare that:
(a) If at
any time I should have an incurable injury, disease, or illness certified to be
a terminal condition by two physicians, and where the application of
life-sustaining procedures would serve only to artificially prolong the moment
of my death ((
and where my physician determines that my death is imminent
whether or not life-sustaining procedures are utilized,)).
Declarant must initial one or both of the following:
.......... I direct that such procedures be withheld or withdrawn, and that I be permitted to die naturally.
.......... I direct that upon my request my physician provide aid-in-dying so that I might die in a dignified, painless and humane manner.
(b) In the
absence of my ability to give directions regarding the use of such
life-sustaining procedures, such as while in an irreversible coma or
persistent vegetative state, it is my intention that this directive shall
be honored by my family and physician(s) as the final expression of my legal
right to refuse medical or surgical treatment and I accept the consequences ((
of such refusal.
(c) If I have been diagnosed as pregnant and that diagnosis is known to my physician, this directive shall have no force or effect during the course of my pregnancy.
(d) I understand the full import of this directive and I am emotionally and mentally competent to make this directive.
(e) I understand that I may add to or delete from or otherwise change the wording of this directive before I sign it, and that I may revoke this directive at any time.
City, County, and State of Residence
The declarer has been personally known to me and I believe him or her to be of sound mind.
(2) Prior to effectuating a directive the diagnosis of a terminal condition by two physicians shall be verified in writing, attached to the directive, and made a permanent part of the patient's medical records.
(3) Similar directives to physicians lawfully executed in other states shall be recognized within Washington state as having the same authority as in the state where executed.
Sec. 4. RCW 70.122.040 and 1979 c 112 s 5 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) A directive may be revoked at any time by the declarer, without regard to declarer's mental state or competency, by any of the following methods:
(a) By being canceled, defaced, obliterated, burned, torn, or otherwise destroyed by the declarer or by some person in declarer's presence and by declarer's direction.
(b) By a written revocation of the declarer expressing declarer's intent to revoke, signed, and dated by the declarer. Such revocation shall become effective only upon communication to the attending physician by the declarer or by a person acting on behalf of the declarer. The attending physician shall record in the patient's medical record the time and date when said physician received notification of the written revocation.
(c) By a verbal expression by the declarer of declarer's intent to revoke the directive. Such revocation shall become effective only upon communication to the attending physician by the declarer or by a person acting on behalf of the declarer. The attending physician shall record in the patient's medical record the time, date, and place of the revocation and the time, date, and place, if different, of when said physician received notification of the revocation.
shall be no criminal ((
or)), civil, or administrative
liability on the part of any person for failure to act upon a revocation made
pursuant to this section unless that person has actual or constructive
knowledge of the revocation.
(3) If the declarer becomes comatose or is rendered incapable of communicating with the attending physician, the directive shall remain in effect for the duration of the comatose condition or until such time as the declarer's condition renders declarer able to communicate with the attending physician.
Sec. 5. RCW 70.122.050 and 1979 c 112 s 6 are each amended to read as follows:
No physician or health facility which, acting in good faith in accordance with the requirements of this chapter, causes the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures from a qualified patient, shall be subject to civil liability therefrom. No licensed health personnel, acting under the direction of a physician, who participates in good faith in the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures in accordance with the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to any civil liability. No physician, or licensed health personnel acting under the direction of a physician, or health facility ethics committee member who participates in good faith in the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures and no physician who provides aid-in-dying to a qualified patient in accordance with the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to prosecution for or be guilty of any criminal act or of unprofessional conduct.
Sec. 6. RCW 70.122.060 and 1979 c 112 s 7 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) Prior to effectuating a withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures from or provision of aid-in-dying to a qualified patient pursuant to the directive, the attending physician shall make a reasonable effort to determine that the directive complies with RCW 70.122.030 and, if the patient is mentally competent, that the directive and all steps proposed by the attending physician to be undertaken are currently in accord with the desires of the qualified patient.
(2) The directive shall be conclusively presumed, unless revoked, to be the directions of the patient regarding the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures and/or the provision of aid-in-dying. No physician, and no licensed health personnel acting in good faith under the direction of a physician, shall be criminally or civilly liable for failing to effectuate the directive of the qualified patient pursuant to this subsection, and no health facility may be required to permit the provision of aid-in-dying within its facility. If the physician or health care facility refuses to effectuate the directive, such physician or facility shall make a good faith effort to transfer the qualified patient to another physician who will effectuate the directive of the qualified patient or to another facility.
Sec. 7. RCW 70.122.070 and 1979 c 112 s 8 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) The withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures from or the provision of aid-in-dying to a qualified patient pursuant to the patient's directive in accordance with the provisions of this chapter shall not, for any purpose, constitute a suicide.
(2) The making of a directive pursuant to RCW 70.122.030 shall not restrict, inhibit, or impair in any manner the sale, procurement, or issuance of any policy of life insurance, nor shall it be deemed to modify the terms of an existing policy of life insurance. No policy of life insurance shall be legally impaired or invalidated in any manner by the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures from or the provision of aid-in-dying to an insured qualified patient, notwithstanding any term of the policy to the contrary.
physician, health facility, or other health provider, and no health ((
service plan, insurer issuing disability insurance, self-insured employee
welfare benefit plan, or nonprofit hospital service plan, shall require any
person to execute a directive as a condition for being insured for, or
receiving, health care services.
Sec. 8. RCW 70.122.080 and 1979 c 112 s 10 are each amended to read as follows:
The act of withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining procedures or providing aid-in-dying, when done pursuant to a directive described in RCW 70.122.030 and which causes the death of the declarer, shall not be construed to be an intervening force or to affect the chain of proximate cause between the conduct of any person that placed the declarer in a terminal condition and the death of the declarer.
Sec. 9. RCW 70.122.090 and 1979 c 112 s 9 are each amended to read as follows:
who willfully conceals, cancels, defaces, obliterates, or damages the
directive of another without such declarer's consent shall be guilty of a gross
misdemeanor. Any person who falsifies or forges the directive of another((
or willfully conceals or withholds personal knowledge of a revocation as
provided in RCW 70.122.040, with the intent to cause a withholding or
withdrawal of life-sustaining procedures or the provision of aid-in-dying
contrary to the wishes of the declarer(( ,)) and thereby, because of any
such act, directly causes life-sustaining procedures to be withheld or
withdrawn or aid-in-dying to be provided and death to thereby be hastened,
shall be subject to prosecution for murder in the first degree as defined in
Sec. 10. RCW 70.122.100 and 1979 c 112 s 11 are each amended to read as follows:
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to condone, authorize, or approve mercy killing, or to permit any affirmative or deliberate act or omission to end life other than to permit the natural process of dying and to permit death with dignity through the provision of aid-in-dying only by a physician when voluntarily requested in writing as provided in this chapter by a conscious and mentally competent qualified patient at the time aid-in-dying is to be provided.
Sec. 11. RCW 70.122.900 and 1979 c 112 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
shall be known and may be cited as the "((
Natural)) Death With
Dignity Act(( "))."
NEW SECTION. Sec. 12. If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.