Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - March. 2, 2009     
Contacts:  Kari Ranten, Director of Marketing, Skagit Valley Hospital, 360-814-2370

Skagit Valley Hospital Board of Commissioners Sets Policy Regarding Death With Dignity Act

MOUNT VERNON – The Skagit Valley Hospital Board of Commissioners approved a hospital policy regarding the state’s Death With Dignity Act approved by voters in November. The law, which takes effect on March 4, 2009, requires hospitals to make a public statement of policy.

The policy approved by the Board of Commissioners on Feb. 27, 2009 does not allow patients to self-administer life-ending medications at Skagit Valley Hospital and does not allow the hospital pharmacy to fill a prescription for life-ending medication.

However, the policy does allow providers who desire to do so to respond to and openly discuss any patient’s inquiry about life-ending medication and help patients to make informed decisions about end-of-life care and options. Healthcare providers at Skagit Valley Hospital may perform the duties of an attending or consulting physician, may prescribe life-ending medication, may provide counseling or perform other duties as allowed by the law.

The act requires that an adult Washington resident who is certified as having a terminal illness with six months or less to live, who is found to be competent by two physicians, may voluntarily request a prescription for life-ending medication three times. The requests must include two oral and one written request spanning at least 15 days, and the patient must be able to self-administer the lethal drug.

The Death With Dignity Act is clear that no provider, including Skagit Valley Hospital, is required to assist a qualified patient in ending his or her own life.

Skagit Valley Hospital will continue to provide compassionate, high-quality care to all our patients. Any patient wishing to receive life-ending medication while a patient at Skagit Valley Hospital will be assisted in transfer to another facility of the patient’s choice and will be assured continuity of care.