2002: Kaiser Shops for Doctors Willing to Prescribe Assisted Suicide Drugs in Oregon

Flashback 2002: Kaiser Shops for Doctors Willing to Prescribe Assisted Suicide Drugs in Oregon – Even When Those Physicians Had No Previous Relationship With the Patient!

2007: Kaiser Permanente Northern and Southern California – Member of HMO Lobbying Group that recently went public supporting Assisted Suicide and AB 374

LOS ANGELES, March 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In the wake of the recent support of a managed care lobbying group for assisted suicide, let us be reminded of how HMOs have sought to facilitate assisted suicide in Oregon.

A 2002 memo from Northwest Permanente administrator Janet Price asks Kaiser doctors, “Are you willing to act as the Attending Physicians under the law for members that ARE NOT your patients?” (Copy of the complete memo follows below)

The September 9, 2002, edition of the American Medical Association’s AMNews reported on the Kaiser memo and wrote, The e-mail, sent out Aug. 6 by Kaiser Permanente NW’s regional ethics service, asks doctors who are willing to act as attending physicians if a person requests assisted suicide to notify Kaiser Administrator Robert Richardson, MD.

Fast forward to 2007, and the California Association of Physicians Groups, an organization that represents Northern and Southern California Permanente Groups and lobbies for “groups practicing in the managed care model” (http://www.CAPG.org), have recently come out with letters to the Legislature and press statements strongly advocating for assisted suicide in California.

Will assisted suicide proponents finally admit that a quick hundred dollar lethal prescription is vastly cheaper than offering extended care over the long haul?

If Kaiser endorses assisted suicide, as the position of California Association of Physicians Groups suggest they should add to their slogan, “Live Well, Thrive … until you become critically ill and then we will find a doctor to assist in your suicide.”

The entire contents of the original memorandum follow

(Source: Physicians for Compassionate Care — Oregon):

“Kaiser Permanente Northwest Division
Sent: 06-Aug-2002 01:21pm PDT
From: Janet P. PricePRICEJANETP
Dept: Northwest Permanente
Tel No: 49-2657
TO: 829 addressees CC: 2 addressees”

Subject: Oregon Death with Dignity Act: Physician Participation


KPNW has complied with implementation of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act (for Oregon residents ONLY) since it became law. The use of this law by KPNW patients and physicians has been administered by our Regional Ethics Service. Recently our Ethics Service had a situation where no attending MD could be found to assist an eligible member in implementing the law for three weeks, during which time this person was suffering and actively dying. Participation by physicians is completely voluntary. At times a member’s primary care or specialist physician is unwilling to participate in this process. If this happens, the Ethics Service approaches the Chief of the primary or specialty care service involved with this member, to identify another physician willing to participate. Significant time is often lost because some Chiefs do not know which of their physicians are willing to volunteer. This can be very distressing to critically ill patients and their families.


Using questions required by the law, interview the patient to determine whether he or she is appropriate to proceed with a request for medication to end life (a clinic or home visit is usually necessary for this). There must be a second discussion with the patient in person or by phone a minimum of 15 days after first request confirming this request.

If the attending physician agrees to support the request, the Ethics Service will arrange an appointment with a non Kaiser physician to independently evaluate the patient and his or her request.

If the attending and the consulting physician agree that the request is reasonable, the Ethics Service will arrange for a designated Kaiser Pharmacist to assist the attending physician in writing the prescription for appropriate medications. The pharmacist will dispense and explain their use to the patient and caregiver.

A representative of the Oregon Health Division will contact by phone the attending physician after the patient’s death to confirm the process and the manner of the patient’s death. This takes about 10 minutes.

The Ethics Service guides Physicians through this process and makes all necessary arrangements for other requirements of the law.


Are you willing to act as the Attending Physician under the law for YOUR patient?

Are you willing to act as the Attending Physician under the law for members who ARE NOT your patients?

IF YOU ARE WILLING TO PARTICIPATE IN EITHER # 1 AND/OR #2, Please e-mail or call Marcia L. Liberson, MPH (LIBERSONMA, 49-3781) or Robert H. Richardson, MD (503-904-7978), KPNW Ethics Service. For questions please contact either Marcia or Robert.

Thank you.


SOURCE California Disability Alliance


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