This information about California’s End of Life Option Act (EOLA) and the physician aid in dying (AID) process is provided to help UC San Diego Health patients and their loved ones understand how this law works.

If you are not a patient at UC San Diego Health you may want to discuss this with your own doctor or health group.

The Board Members and Staff at the San Diego Memorial Society do not endorse or condone the methods described but provide this to our readers as information only.

End of Life Option Act or The California End of Life Option Act (EOLOA)

The End of Life Options Act (SB 128) went into effect on June 9, 2016. It allows California residents who are at least 18 years old and have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of 6 months or less to request a medication that will hasten their death.

This practice is also known as “death with dignity” or “physician (doctor) aid in dying.” It is not the same as euthanasia, which involves a doctor actually administering drugs to end a patient’s life. Euthanasia is not legal in the U.S.

People who wish to exercise this aid-in-dying option must maintain their decision-making capacity and must independently make this request to a physician. They also must be able to ingest the medication on their own.

Under this law, physician aid in dying (AID) is not considered suicide. Participation in this end-of-life option is voluntary for patients, doctors and staff.

To receive the aid-in-dying drug, a person must:

  • Be 18 years or older and a resident of California
  • Have a terminal disease that cannot be cured or reversed and is expected to result in death within six months
  • Have the capacity to make medical decisions and not have impaired judgment due to a mental disorder
  • Have the physical ability to take and ingest the drug

Steps in the EOLOA process

The EOLOA process takes time, and there are several important milestones you and your doctor will need to meet along the way. At any point in this process, you are free to change your mind and decide whether you want to continue. The following is a brief overview of the steps:

    • You request the aid-in-dying drug from your doctor on two separate occasions, at least 48 hours apart. You also make a third request, which you write on a special form.
    • Your doctor begins the process of ensuring that you legally qualify for the EOLOA.
    • Your doctor refers you to a UCLA Health clinical consultant who will work with you and your doctor throughout the entire process.
    • Your doctor explains all your end-of-life options in detail and encourages you to discuss these options with your family and loved ones.
    • Your doctor examines you and confirms that you have a terminal illness. Your doctor also evaluates your mental health to ensure that you are capable of making the decision to take an aid-in-dying drug.
    • Your doctor explains how to take the drug and answers your questions.
    • Your doctor writes the prescription for the aid-in-dying drug, and you sign a consent form for the prescription to be sent to the pharmacy.
    • You or a caregiver or loved one retrieves the drug from the pharmacy.
    • You ingest the aid-in-dying drug according to the instructions. You must be in a private place when you take the drug, and another person must be with you.
    • Your caregiver or loved ones dispose of any remaining aid-in-dying drug according to the directions.

Physician Aid in Dying (AID) Process at UC San Diego Health

How to Begin the Process

If you are a UC San Diego Health patient, ask your physician about your treatment options. Your physician is dedicated to making sure that your treatment matches your goals.

When it has become clear that you are in the final months of life, there are several options to consider. Pain and discomfort can, in most cases, be managed by a palliative care team, or hospice care can bring services into your home that enhance comfort and quality of life.

Only the individual can decide if and when their own quality of life has become so poor that physician aid in dying seems to be the best option to end one’s own life in a humane and dignified manner.

When you’re ready, you should begin with a frank discussion with the physicians who knows you best. Physicians who do not participate in the AID program are not obligated by law to act on your request.

If your physician does not prescribe the aid-in-dying drug, you can ask members of your medical team to connect you with an AID consultant who will give you more information. No member of our medical team is obligated by law to participate, so only medical professionals and staff who are voluntarily participating will assist you.


There is a lot more in this article including: Making the Request, Information about the medications, other considerations, a checklist of the process and a link to more resources.

Read More from at the UC San Diego Health website.

Related Links: