Initiative 1000

Virginia Mason Memorial and the Initiative 1000: The Washington State Death with Dignity Act

Below is a review of Memorial's position on I 1000, the Death with Dignity Initiative passed last November. Attached is additional information and common questions you and others may ask. If you have additional questions please forward them to your manager or divisional administrator.

Initiative 1000, the Washington State Death with Dignity Act, went into effect on March 5, 2009. The Virginia Mason Memorial Board of Trustees recognizes and accepts the decision of the citizens of Washington with the statewide passage of the Death with Dignity Act. However, the Board believes that it is inconsistent with the core values of Memorial and its Family of Services, as health care providers, to either unduly prolong or hasten the natural process of life.

On February 23 the Memorial Board of Trustees passed a resolution that life-ending medication will not be dispensed or administered at Virginia Mason Memorial, or any facility owned, leased or controlled by Virginia Mason Memorial.

The Board also recognizes the important and personal relationship between the physician and patient and thus will allow the physician to perform consultation and prescribe life-ending medication, as defined in the Death with Dignity act.

Memorial will allow its employed physicians and non-employed physicians on its medical staff to consult and prescribe these medications for use outside of Memorial's facilities, as long as patients meet the conditions set by the state of Washington. Physicians will be required to follow all protocol detailed in the Initiative 1000 act guidelines.

No physician is required to prescribe life-ending medication to a patient, even if all of the necessary conditions are met.

Memorial believes our physicians and others involved in patient care, have an obligation to openly discuss patients' concerns, unmet needs, feelings and desires about the dying process. Memorial is committed to helping our patients understand the range of available options, including comfort care, hospice care, palliative care, and pain management. Ultimately, Memorial's goal is to help patients make informed decisions about end-of-life care.

Memorial Board Resolution »
Initiative 1000/Memorial Policies »
Background Information »
Questions and Answers »
Washington State Department of Health website including information and forms »
End of Life Washington »

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