In 1993, at the peak of the AIDS epidemic, a small group of dedicated individuals who had seen too many violent, lonely, and agonized deaths vowed to make a difference. Staying within the law, they provided information and emotional support to mentally competent AIDS patients who sought a peaceful death. Unlike other “right-to-die” organizations, we stay strictly within the law and provide counseling subject to careful guidelines. We also advocate in court as well as with legislatures for improved end-of-life law, and work within the health care community to enhance options and care for the terminally ill.
To learn more about Compassion & Choices of Northern California, read our responses to Frequently Asked Questions.
END-OF-LIFE CONSULTATION PROGRAM
This free service provides counseling to the terminally ill and their loved ones. It includes:
- Help preparing advance directives,
- Referrals to services, such as hospice, and
- Guidance on pain and symptom control.
We bring all legal options to the discussion, including withdrawing medical treatment, stopping eating and drinking, and inducing total sedation. We facilitate discussions between patients and their doctors. We help doctors talk with one another about ethical options for end-of-life care. Knowledge about aid-in-dying allows terminally ill individuals to end their anxieties about death; allowing clients to turn their attention to their families and resolve any final concerns. In most cases, death overtakes our clients before they ever feel the need to exercise aid-in-dying. All requests for information, and the identities of the patients, loved ones, and health care providers are held in strict confidence.
Compassion & Choices offers outreach to large and small groups. We encourage individuals to complete advance directives, and we provide forms and support as needed. We address the latest legal challenges and how individuals can help promote change. We tailor our content to the audience; be it a religious, medical, or neighborhood group.
Many patients with terminal illnesses suffer needlessly because they do not receive adequate medication. Concern about addiction often prevents patients from asking for stronger drugs. Some physicians fear they could lose their licenses if the Drug Enforcement Agency becomes aware that they prescribe large amounts of pain medications.
In 2001, Compassion & Choices successfully argued, under elder abuse statutes, a case involving an elderly California man who had suffered needlessly from under-treated pain during his dying days. As a direct result of that groundbreaking case, the California Legislature passed a law requiring physicians to complete twelve hours of continuing education in pain management and end-of-life choices in order to maintain their licenses to practice medicine.
Compassion & Choices is also closely involved in the legislation to support aid-in-dying. Click here for more information.
Aid-in-Dying Glossary of Terms
How to Talk With Patients Who Are Facing
by Fran Johns
Mother Die with Dignity and Compassion",
Frequently Asked Questions