House Bill 140
152nd General Assembly (Present)
Out of Committee 5/16/23
Legislation has been voted out of Committee; now placed on the Ready List
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 16 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO END OF LIFE OPTIONS.
This Act permits a terminally ill individual who is an adult resident of Delaware to request and self-administer medication to end the individual's life in a humane and dignified manner if both the individual's attending physician or attending advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) and a consulting physician or consulting APRN agree on the individual's diagnosis and prognosis and believe the individual has decision-making capacity, is making an informed decision, and is acting voluntarily. This Act uses terms and definitions that are consistent with other Delaware laws in Title 16, specifically Chapter 25 (regarding advance health-care directives) and Chapter 25A (regarding Delaware Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment). This Act provides the following procedural safeguards: 1. No one may request medication to end life on behalf of another individual. 2. An individual cannot qualify for medication to end life under this chapter solely because of the individual's age or disability. A mental illness or mental health condition is not a qualifying condition under this Act and a mental illness or mental health condition may be the reason that an individual does not have decision-making capacity and is thus, ineligible for medication to end their life in a humane and dignified manner. 3. Both the individual's attending physician or attending APRN and a consulting physician or consulting APRN must confirm that the individual has a terminal illness and a prognosis of 6 months or less to live, has decision-making capacity, is making an informed decision, and is acting voluntarily. 4. The individual's attending physician or attending APRN must also provide specific disclosures to the individual to ensure that the individual is making an informed decision, including the presentation of all end of life options which include comfort care, palliative care, hospice care, and pain control. 5. The individual must be evaluated by a psychiatrist or a psychologist if either the attending or consulting physicians or APRNs are concerned that the individual lacks decision-making capacity. 6. The individual must complete a witnessed form requesting medication to end life and there are limitations on who can witness the signing of the form. 7. The attending physician or attending APRN must offer the individual the opportunity to rescind the request for medication to end life before writing a prescription for the medication. 8. Two waiting periods must pass before the attending physician or attending APRN may prescribe the medication to end life. 9. The attending physician or attending APRN must provide the qualified patient with instructions about the proper safe-keeping and disposal of unused medication to end life in a humane and dignified manner under applicable state or federal guidelines. The United States Food and Drug Administration guidelines include using a medication collection site or a medication disposal pouch, that deactivates and renders drugs ineffective. 10. An insurer or health-care provider may not deny or alter health-care benefits otherwise available to an individual based upon the availability of medication to end life or otherwise coerce or require a request for medication to end life as a condition of receiving care. 11. A health-care institution may prohibit a physician or APRN from prescribing medication under this Act on the health-care institution's premises and a physician or APRN may to refuse to prescribe medication under this Act. 12. A request or prescription for or the dispensing of medication under this Act does not constitute elder abuse, suicide, assisted-suicide, homicide, or euthanasia. 13. People acting in good faith and in accordance with generally accepted health-care standards under this Act have immunity, but those acting with negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct do not have criminal or civil immunity. 14. The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) must develop rules and regulations to collect information regarding compliance with this Act and require health-care providers to file a report when medication to end life in a humane and dignified manner is prescribed or dispensed. DHSS may review samples of records maintained under this Act. The information DHSS collects must include the information necessary to assess a physician's or APRN's compliance with their responsibilities under this Act and DHSS has explicit authority to share information with the Division of Professional Regulation if DHSS suspects that a health-care provider failed to comply with the requirements under this Act. 15. DHSS must complete an annual statistical report of information collected under this Act, similar to public reports available in other states such as New Jersey where this end of life option is available. This report has the following purposes: • To assist the DHSS in its oversight responsibilities for this Act. • To assist the public in learning how well this new law is operating. 16. The Department of State may also promulgate regulations or develop forms and protocols necessary under this Act. 17. Allows the Office of Controlled Substances to provide reports of data in the prescription monitoring program to DHSS to assess compliance with this Act. This Act takes effect when final regulations required under this Act have been promulgated or July 1, 2024, whichever occurs earlier. This Act is known as "The Ron Silverio/Heather Block End of Life Options Law" in memory of Ron Silverio and Heather Block, who were passionate advocates that passed away without this option becoming available to them.
Takes effect upon being signed into law