End-of-life prescriptions should be available to all who need them

Thursday, June 28, 2018 2:51 PM

Sixty-five percent of Coloradans voted for Medical Aid in Dying to make Colorado the fifth state in the nation to legalize this compassionate option for end-of-life care.

Did you know that this option may not be available to you in Durango or nearby towns?

Mercy Medical Center boasts wonderful accomplishments, including five-star ratings, "A" grades, and being one of "100 Great Community Hospitals".

It also has a "new, state-of-the-art hospice residence" but fails to mention that it does not provide the legal medical procedure for which a majority of local residents voted. The fact that the hospice center does not provide complete end-of-life care is not the issue; the law allows hospitals and physicians to opt in or out based on their own values.

The problem is that Mercy is prohibiting its physicians from writing prescriptions that provide their dying patients with this legal, compassionate option. In other states, the vast majority of patients use their prescription at home surrounded by love ones, and more than 90 percent of them are in hospice care.

The Colorado law prohibits employers from retaliating against physicians who participate as long as the prescription is not intended for use on the hospital campus. If you have a Mercy physician and want this important option, ask your doctor if they will help you if the need arises.

If not, ask for a referral to someone who will.

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Lauri Costello, MD