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Medical Professionals

Introduction to Oregon’s Death with Dignity (DWD)


Death With Dignity allows terminally ill adult Oregonians to control the manner and timing of their death by ingesting a lethal medication prescribed by an Oregon-licensed DO or MD. The law specifies conditions to protect physicians when they aid a dying patient by writing a lethal prescription. Patients ingest the medication as they would take any other medication. The patient’s family members and friends are protected when in Oregon.

ORS 127.880 s.3.14 states:

Nothing in ORS 127.800 to 127.897 shall be construed to authorize a physician or any person to end a patient’s life by lethal injection, mercy killing or active euthanasia. Actions taken in accordance with ORS 127.800 to 127.897 shall not, for any purpose, constitute suicide, assisted suicide, mercy killing or homicide, under the law.

And ORS 127.885 s.4.01 states:

Except as provided in ORS 127.890: (1) No person shall be subject to civil or criminal liability or professional disciplinary action for participating in good faith compliance with ORS 127.800 to 127.897. This includes being present when a qualified patient takes the prescribed medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner.


Attending Physician
In the DWD law, the prescribing physician is called the attending physician.

Consulting Physician
The consulting physician verifies that the person is eligible.

Medical Aid in Dying
The terms for this procedure are “medical aid in dying” or “MAID.”  


In order to qualify for DWD, a person must be terminally ill as determined by two doctors; at least 18 years of age; and have mental decision-making capacity to make their own autonomous healthcare decisions when requesting and taking the medication.


The Oregon law requires two Oregon-licensed physicians (the prescriber and the consultant) to confirm that the patient has decision-making capacity to make their own autonomous healthcare decisions when requesting and taking the medication.

Both the attending and consulting physicians must verify the person’s diagnosis, prognosis, and understanding of their requested DWD procedure. If either physician is unsure of the patient’s capacity, Death With Dignity requires you to refer your patient for a mental health evaluation by a psychologist or psychiatrist. If a referral is made, you must have your patient’s capacity deemed intact on a completed Psychiatric/Psychological Consultant’s compliance form or other written format.

The OHA provides forms for healthcare professionals to document compliance and return to OHA. All legal requirements are present on each compliance form. These forms and instructions are on our website: Physician Forms and Instructions.

Unusual Circumstances

A feeding tube and rectal administration are allowed with Death With Dignity. The operative requirement is that the patient initiates the flow of medicine by depressing the necessary button for self-administration.

An implanted cardioverter defibrillator must be turned off before the patient ingests the lethal medication in order to prevent violent shocks. A pacemaker will not cause problems.

Other options include voluntary stopping eating and drinking (VSED) or palliative care with hospice. End of Life Choices Oregon can provide information for these choices.

If your patient wants you to be present, the decision is up to you. Our experienced volunteers provide support and expertise at the time of death.

Full Text of Oregon's Death with Dignity (DWD) law


In order to qualify for DWD, a person must be terminally ill as prognosticated by two doctors. They must be in Oregon, at least 18 years of age, and be have decision-making capacity for making their own autonomous health care decisions when requesting and when taking the medication.

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