Hawaii Law Goes Into Effect

As of January 1, Hawai‘i residents have the option of medical aid in dying, and implementation throughout the state is going smoothly.
January 15, 2019

With Hawaii’s Our Care, Our Choice Act now in effect, Compassion & Choices applauds provider groups, pharmacies and medical facilities for their efforts in setting good policy to support patients who choose to make a request for a prescription under the law and to support doctors who choose to honor their patients’ end-of-life choices.

Following our work to pass the law — a years-long effort — we have been leading a statewide, multilingual, volunteer-powered Access Campaign since the law was signed on April 5, 2018, by Governor David Ige. Kat West, national director of policy and programming for Compassion & Choices, said, “I’m pleased to report that Hawai‘i is ahead of most other states at this stage of the law’s implementation. Already numerous medical provider education events have occurred and more are planned for doctors and other providers; and most healthcare systems/facilities are adopting policies of engaged neutrality that honors patient end-of-life decision-making.”

West added, “We encourage residents, no matter which island they reside on, to have conversations with their doctors now about whether their doctor would support them if they were to become terminally ill and request medical aid in dying. We know from experience it is the only way that residents can ensure that they will get the care they want at the end of life.”

The Hawai‘i Department of Health has been supportive, providing a patient request form and doctor guidelines on their website, emphasizing the importance of enrolling in hospice as part of end-of-life care. The department website also links to Compassion & Choices’ comprehensive resources for Hawai‘i residents and providers. The Compassion & Choices Hawai‘i website will launch a Find Care Tool, the only public resource listing all the medical facilities, medical groups and hospices that have adopted a policy supportive of patient end-of-life choice.

Dr. Charles Miller, board certified physician in internal medicine, medical oncology and hematology, announced that he will serve as medical aid-in-dying attending physician for Kaiser Permanente Hawai‘i patients through the end of the year and will mentor colleagues on this compassionate end-of-life medical practice. Kaiser has also created a patient navigator role and contracted with a psychologist to give the mandatory third mental health consultation required only by Hawaii’s law.

Terminal cancer patient and medical aid-in-dying advocate John Radcliffe, a Kaiser member who was instrumental in getting the law passed last year, went on record January 2 as Hawaii’s first individual to request a prescription for aid-in-dying medication under the new law. “I don’t know when, or even if, I’ll use it. I’m just so thankful that my doctors and my hospital system are honoring my decision and helping me navigate the process,” he said. “I realize it might not be as smooth a process for many of my fellow Hawai‘i residents who are dying. I intend to use my remaining days to help ensure access for those who need it.”

Compassion & Choices
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Sean Crowley
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Patricia A. González-Portillo
National Latino Media Director
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(323) 819 0310

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