As a (physician, nurse, pharmacist, health care professional) working at _________ (hospital, clinic, long-term care facility or medical center), I believe that the duty of health care professionals is to protect the lives of those entrusted to our treatment and care. Medically vulnerable patients place their trust in me each day—they trust that I will care for them to the best of my ability, that I will comfort them when I can no longer heal them, and that I will always treat them with dignity and with respect. They trust _____________ (hospital or facility) to do the same—patients and their families trust that when they enter our doors, we will provide the best of care in an environment that is safe and conducive to healing.
It is in this context of trust that I want to express my deep concern over the recent passage of Initiative 1000, which legalizes physician-assisted suicide in Washington state. The American Medical Association and 49 of its state chapters have declared that they do not support the practice of physician-assisted suicide. The Washington State Medical Association announced in July of this year that physician-assisted suicide is “fundamentally incompatible with the role of physicians as healers.” I believe, along with the WSMA and many of my fellow health care professionals, that physician-assisted suicide endangers vulnerable patients and is incompatible with good medicine.
In Oregon, many institutions have adopted policies that do not allow employed physicians to write lethal prescriptions, hospital pharmacies to dispense lethal prescriptions, or lethal prescriptions to be administered on hospital premises. The conscience clause of I-1000 makes clear that health care providers may opt out of participating in assisted suicide. In addition, health care facilities may prohibit health care providers from participating on their premises by following the law’s simple procedures. (See Section 19 of I-1000.) I urge ____________ (hospital or medical center) to refuse to allow assisted suicide and to continue to offer excellent treatment, care, and comfort to our terminally ill and dying patients.
__________ needs to continue to be a safe harbor for patients and families. I believe that many members of the community will steer clear of any facility which supports and practices physician-assisted suicide and instead seek health care in an institution they can trust with their lives. Obviously, the provision of lethal drug overdoses is the antithesis of safe care. Additionally, since the practice is controversial, it is likely to divide staff, cause conflict between patients and their families, and encourage legal complaints.
I have always appreciated the excellent standard of care we offer at _____________ . For me, it is an honor and a privilege to be a member of our health care team and to work alongside other professionals who share my passion for truly compassionate care. It is because I honor the ‘do no harm’ philosophy at the heart of medicine and because I care deeply for the well-being of my patients that I urge (hospital, clinic, facility) to reject all participation in assisted suicide.