11 Apr 2012

Hawaii Council formed to help terminally ill patients die

3:14 pm on 11 April 2012

Doctors in Hawaii have formed a council to help physicians who want to give patients aid in dying.

The Physician Advisory Council for Aid in Dying, or PACAID, has been set up to help doctors assist terminally ill patients, including prescribing lethal barbiturates.

One of its founders, Dr Robert Nathanson, says a 1909 law is clear, that if a doctor certifies that a patient is beyond recovery, then a doctor can help them to die.

"Since we feel that it is already legal, and that a few of us will be writing prescriptions, we feel that there needs to be an advisory group of physicians that will determine how it's done."

Dr Robert Nathanson says polling suggests an overwhelming majority of doctors in Hawaii believe a decision should be between a doctor and patient, and not involve the government.