Medical Aid in Dying: Office-Based Care

December 11, 2023 | Ambulatory Care Risk Management


​​​​Medical aid in dying (MAID)—also known as physician-assisted dying, voluntary euthanasia, or assisted suicide—is when a competent and terminally ill adult decides to end their life via physician-prescribed medication(s). Part of the "right to die" and "death with dignity" movements, MAID presents numerous ethical and legal challenges that question the boundaries of a person's right to self-determination and bodily autonomy in death.

Although the practice remains controversial, more and more states are legalizing the option and public support has steadily increased over the last 25 years. According to a 2020 Gallup poll, 74% of U.S. adults say doctors should be allowed to end a patient's life "by some painless means" if the patient has an incurable disease and they and their family request it—an increase in support from 37% when Gallup first polled the issue in 1947.(1)

A review of data from MAID patients in Washington and Oregon—two states with the longest-running MAID programs—found that most MAID patients were over the age of 65, were non-Hispanic White individuals, and had a cancer diagnosis. Reasons for opting for MAID included loss of autonomy, impaired quality of life, inadequate pain control, and, in a small percentage, financial concerns. The review found MAID to be a safe clinical practice, with only 4% of MAID patients experiencing complications, mostly due to ingestion or regurgitation issues. ...

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