Role of nurses in physician-assisted suicide

  1. Has anyone every come across any information on what the role of a nurse is in Washington or Oregon when it comes to physician-assisted suicide?

    I'm under the impression there isn't much for a nurse to do, since the patient has to be able to self-administer the overdose of medication. But any info would be of great help.

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    Joined: May '09; Posts: 7; Likes: 1
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  3. by   chicookie
    I googled it and came across this:
  4. by   twinmommy+2
    I havn't put much thought into this, mainly since I'm not anywhere near a state that allows this. But probably the following
    • iv start
    • medication administration
    • counceling and referal for same
    • talking with grieving family members
    • calling the coroner and lifenet
  5. by   FireStarterRN
    In Washington many hospitals are opting out of participation in the new law. They had a certain amount of time to declare whether or not they would be providing this 'service'. I believe the medications have to be self administered oral ones, if I'm not mistaken.
  6. by   Ellean55
    Just out of interest. Does this include assisting in the execution of prisioners? Just a thought.
  7. by   Teresag_CNS
    The Oregon law does have to be self-administered doses of oral medication. Nurses are involved from the standpoint of counseling and providing support, esp. hospice nurses because it's in hospice that the requests typically occur. By the way, requests outnumber actual administration of fatal doses - it appears some patients get the drugs but choose for whatever reason not to take them. There was a publication in NEJM a few years back by some colleagues of mine on the implementation of the law - one author is T. Harvath and another S. Tolle, if you want to look it up.

    I don't think the OP was inquiring about executions.
  8. by   FireStarterRN
    Right, the law has nothing to do with capital punishment. That would be the subject for another thread.
  9. by   nerdtonurse?
    I think a lot of people are getting the med but not taking it just so they have an "exit' if things get too bad. I would think that the notion of being trapped by your disease -- you have no control, no way to get on top of what's going on, and you're at the mercy of others who determine how much pain/sedation you deserve -- would be horrific with a terminal diagnosis. Maybe if people feel like they have the option of suicide, they feel more control, and it actually prevents people from "accidentally" overdosing on their meds like my step grandpa did. My step grandpa had emphysema, and thinking about it now, I'm betting he also had lung ca. He saved up his valium and pain meds, and took them all. Unfortunately, all he did was put himself into a coma, experience hypoxic brain damage, and he spent the last 3 weeks of his life in a hospital wailing and screaming when he could get enough breath to do so. I was 9, and it horrified me -- he'd scream, and try to get out of bed and hide -- he seemed to be caught in nightmares of his experiences during the Battle of the Bulge. Had he had the option, he might not have felt the urge to take the pills, he might have been okay with the notion that he could take them and 'escape' if he needed to. The doc was nice about it for my grandma's sake, and said it was an accidental overdose. Nobody "accidently" takes 50 pills...we knew what he'd done, but his sisters never knew.
  10. by   nerdtonurse?
    Hey, just noticed, that was my 800th post.
  11. by   FireStarterRN
    Quote from nerdtonurse?
    Hey, just noticed, that was my 800th post.

  12. by   Ellean55
    This was just something I threw out - I am not from the US you see so wouldnt understand the concept of suicide - but then I thought well prisioners are executed they are - if you like (correct me If I am wrong,) having their lives medically ended. I.e lethal injection. Thats just my thought. I was thinking that was another form of physican- assisted suicide.