Patient Choice and Control at End of Life, often referred to as Death with Dignity, provides Vermont residents with terminal disease the option to be prescribed a dose of medication to hasten the end of their life. This option requires the participation of a Vermont physician. 18 V.S.A. Chapter 113 (Act 39 of the 2013 General Assembly).
Certification of Death
A patient with a terminal disease, who has chosen to end their life and has followed all the provisions outlined in 18 V.S.A. Chapter 113, should be certified as a Natural manner of death, with the cause listed as the underlying terminal disease.
Example: A patient dying of metastatic prostate cancer, who follows the provisions of 18 V.S.A. Chapter 113.
- Cause of death: Metastatic Prostatic Adenocarcinoma
- Manner: Natural
There is no medical or epidemiological reason to list the terminal mechanism of respiratory failure due to the medication overdose.
When a patient chooses to use this option both patient and doctors are required to follow specific steps laid out in 18 V.S.A. Chapter 113 to be eligible. The statute requires a thoughtful and well-defined process. Such eligible patients are not committing suicide under the statute, they are choosing a last medical treatment for their disease. Thus, it is that disease which is the underlying cause of the death.