Colorado’s End of Life Options Act at Denver Health
Colorado's End-of-Life Options Act (EoLOA), adopted in December 2016, permits terminally ill adults to request and receive prescribed medication for the purpose of ending life in a peaceful manner. Qualifying patients must meet stringent requirements and must go through a mandated process outlined by this Act. The act allows health care providers to opt in or opt out of participation in end-of-life option (EoLOA) activities. Two out of three voters in Colorado voted in favor of EOLOA. Denver Health supports its patients' right to access medical aid in dying services and as a result, has opted to allow medical aid-in-dying (MAID) services at Denver Health under certain conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What should a Denver Health patient do if he or she wants medical aid-in-dying services?
The patient can ask his or her treating physician for a referral to Denver Health's medical aid-in-dying service or call Denver Health's medical aid-in-dying service line with questions or requests at 303-602-8044.
- Do other options exist for terminally ill patients?
Denver Health’s palliative care team provides specialized medical care for patients with serious or life-threatening illnesses to improve symptoms, provide patient and family support, and facilitate in end-of-life decision-making through its interdisciplinary team. Denver Health offers several options to terminally ill patients that provide support and comfort.
General information about the Colorado End of Life Options Act (EoLOA)
Who is eligible to request and receive medical aid-in-dying medication?
An adult (at least 18 years old) Colorado resident may request medical aid-in-dying medication when:
- he or she has a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less,
- he or she has mental capacity to make this medical decision and
- he or she has voluntarily expressed this request for a prescription for aid-in-dying medication.
Are health care providers, nurses and pharmacists required to participate?
No. Each health care provider has the right to choose whether or not to participate in providing medical aid-in-dying services. Patients whose providers choose not to participate in these services can contact Denver Health’s medical aid-in-dying clinic at 303-602-8044.
Does an individual have to be a current Denver Health patient to make the request?
Qualifying patients must be active patients within Denver Health, having received service within the previous three years. If a patient’s treating physician does not participate as a provider of Denver Health’s medical aid-in-dying services, the patient can contact Denver Health’s medical aid-in-dying clinic at 303-602-8044.
What kind of prescription will the patient receive?
The attending physician determines and prescribes the medical aid-in-dying medication. Oral barbiturate medications are the most commonly prescribed in other participating states, however, a number of medications have been successfully used.
Where and when does an individual self-administer the medical aid-in-dying medication?
Each patient should discuss the manner and setting for self-administering medications and are encouraged to choose a private, secure and home-like setting. Many patients choose to take the medication in their homes or private residences. The administration of medical aid-in-dying medication is not permitted at any Denver Health facility.
Does a physician have to be present when the medication is taken?
EoLOA does not require the presence of a physician when a patient takes the medical aid-in-dying medication. It is permissible for physician to be present at the self-administration of the medication if requested by the patient. The patient must self-administer the medication.
What is an informed decision?
An informed decision, as defined by EoLOA, is:
- made by a qualified individual to
- request and receive medical aid-in-dying medication which
- the individual may decide to self-administer to end his or her life in a peaceful manner.
- The individual must be fully informed by the attending physician of:
- his or her medical diagnosis and prognosis of six months or less,
- the potential risks associated with taking the medical aid-in-dying medication,
- the probable result of taking the medical aid-in-dying medication (death),
- all additional feasible treatment alternatives and opportunities, including comfort care, and palliative or hospice services
- as well as the right to not take any prescribed medications.
How does a patient demonstrate residency?
A patient demonstrates Colorado residency by providing any of the following:
- A Colorado driver’s license or identification card
- A Colorado voter registration card or other documentation showing the individual is registered to vote in Colorado
- Evidence that the individual owns or leases property in Colorado
- A Colorado income tax return for the most recent tax year
Can a non-resident move to Colorado to receive medical aid-in-dying services?
Qualified individuals must demonstrate current residency in Colorado and meet the requirements as outlined in EoLOA before receiving medical aid-in-dying services. The law does not explicitly prevent an individual from moving to Colorado for this purpose, however, patients must ultimately show proof of state residency to qualify.
If a patient’s primary care physician is located in another state, can that physician write a prescription for a patient?
No. According to EoLOA, only physicians licensed to practice medicine by the Board of Medical Examiners for the State of Colorado can write a valid prescription for medical aid-in-dying medication.
Will this be covered by insurance?
EoLOA does not specify who must pay for services. Individual insurers determine whether the medical aid-in-dying professional services (a minimum of three medical visits) and medication are covered. Federal law prevents the use of any federal funds to support these services, including federally-funded Medicare and Medicaid insurance.
How much will participation cost?
The costs associated with participation in EoLOA include the cost of the physician services and the prescribed medication. There are no other specific fees for participating in EoLOA.