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Chest. 2012 Jul;142(1):218-24. doi: 10.1378/chest.12-0046.

Aid in dying: guidance for an emerging end-of-life practice.

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  • 1Legal Affairs, Compassion & Choices, Denver, CO, and Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Patients approaching death because of terminal illness may find themselves trapped in a dying process they find unbearable, even with excellent pain and symptom management. Some will want the option of aid in dying. Aid in dying is the practice of a physician writing a prescription for medication for a mentally competent, terminally ill patient that the patient may ingest to bring about a peaceful death. The practice is increasingly accepted by physicians, and it is likely that a growing population of patients will inquire about it. Data from states that give terminally ill patients a statutory right to aid in dying demonstrate that the practice improves end-of-life care. Therefore, it is timely for clinical practice guidelines to emerge to offer guidance to physicians willing to provide aid in dying.

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