Skip to Content

Physician-Assisted Death

Topic Overview

Physician-assisted death refers to a practice by which physicians provide the means for a person to voluntarily cause his or her own death. This is usually done by prescribing lethal doses of medicine. Although indirectly participating in the person's death, the physician does not directly cause the death. Only a few states, such as Oregon and Washington, have legalized physician-assisted death.

A person with a terminal illness may think about physician-assisted death. Among the factors that may cause a person to consider ending his or her life are pain, depression, and fear of becoming dependent on others. A person who is dying may be concerned about being a burden to others and may not realize that loved ones want to provide care as an expression of love and as part of their own healthy grieving.

Often when a person with a terminal illness considers physician-assisted death, his or her physical or emotional symptoms are not being managed effectively. Symptoms associated with the dying process (such as pain, depression, or nausea) can be controlled. Talk to your health professional and family about your symptoms, especially if these symptoms are so bothersome you are considering ending your life.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Shelly R. Garone, MD, FACP - Palliative Medicine
Last Revised July 6, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Classes & Events

  • Sep
    18
    Thursday
    5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
    HEALTHFAST is a medically supervised weight loss program, designed for safe and significant weight loss, committed to the treatment of obesity and the reduction of medical risk factors.
  • Sep
    20
    Saturday
    10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
    This is a medically-based yoga class specifically designed for Multiple Sclerosis patients. The session will help participants increase strength, balance and flexibility.
  • Sep
    22
    Monday
    5:30 PM - 6:30 PM
    This class will focus on the health benefits of fresh juice and smoothies.

Section Links