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Death With Dignity Act


Helping patients die with dignity is a primary function of hospice aides and other hospice workers, but what if the patient wants to die before they reach the stage where they lose bodily functions, autonomy, or mental competence?  In 1997, Oregon was the first state to pass the Death with Dignity Act (DWDA), otherwise known as physician-assisted suicide.  Since then, five other states have passed it and several additional states are trying to make it legal.  This module examines the Death with Dignity Act based on data collected by the state of Oregon between 1998 and 2017.  It includes patients’ reasons for wanting physician-assisted suicide, their eligibility, the process of requesting it, the medications used, and the opposition to it in language that is understandable and informative.  This module contains the following learning objectives:

  • Define “death with dignity”
  • List reasons for wanting physician-assisted suicide
  • Describe the process to request it in states where it is legal
  • Discuss the patient requirements for physician-assisted suicide in states where it is legal
  • Discuss the methods used in physician-assisted suicide
  • Reflect on opposition to physician-assisted suicide


  • Learning Module
  • Group Exercise:  What Would You Do?
  • Test Questions
  • Instructor Answer Key
  • Attendance Sheet
  • Evaluation Form
  • Certificate of Attendance