Month: February 2017


Update on California’s End of Life Option Act


In June  2016, California became the fifth state to enact an aid-in-dying law.  California’s End of Life Option Act (the “Act”) authorizes an adult who is suffering from a terminal disease and meets other qualifications to request an aid-in-dying drug that may be prescribed for the purpose of ending his or her life.  Cal. Health & Safety Code § 443.2.

The California Department of Public Health (“CDPH”) and the California Medical Board have published forms for providers to use when fulfilling a patient’s request under the Act.  CDPH is expected to report the number of people who died using aid-in-dying drugs, and other information collected from health care providers participating in activities authorized by the Act.

Since the effective date of the Act (June 9, 2016), California health care providers and health care facilities have been grappling with complying with the Act’s requirements.  To fulfill a patient’s request under the Act, health care providers must follow specific protocols outlined in the Act, and ensure that proper documentation is completed.  Individual health care providers are not obligated to participate in activities authorized by the Act, and may not be subject to civil, criminal, disciplinary, or medical staff actions for refusing to participate in activities authorized by the Act.  The Act allows certain health care providers, including licensed hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, to prohibit their employees, independent contractors, or other persons or entities, from participating in activities under the Act while on premises owned or under the management or direct control of the health care provider, or while acting within the course and scope of any employment by, or contract with, the health care provider.

Many privately-owned health care facilities have developed internal policies addressed to compliance with the Act.  California recently enacted new regulations which address compliance with the Act in public facilities operated by the Department of Developmental Services (“DDS”).  According to the new regulations, DDS will not provide aid-in-dying drugs to a terminally ill resident in a developmental center or state-operated facility.  Furthermore, no DDS employees or independent contractors may provide the end-of-life option on the premises of any DDS facility or while acting within the course and scope of any employment by, or contract with DDS.  In certain circumstances, DDS may arrange for a transfer of a DDS patient who intends to exercise his or her rights under the Act.  If a transfer is not available, the patient may file an appeal to exercise his or her rights under the Act at the DDS facility.

We will continue to update you on the implementation of the Act, and its implications for health care providers.

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New study seeks to understand how deaf infants with cochlear implants learn words

Research has proven the importance of early access to sound and spoken language among newborns and has led to significant advances in hearing screening and early intervention.

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MIT researchers develop new machine to rapidly produce customized peptides

Manufacturing small proteins known as peptides is usually very time-consuming, which has slowed development of new peptide drugs for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and bacterial infections.

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Young children experience better long-term kidney transplant success than adults, study finds

The success of kidney transplants has vastly improved for children over the past half-century, with young children now experiencing better long-term transplant success than adults, according to study results from a large pediatric transplant center.

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New molecule may inhibit growth of aggressive pediatric brain tumor

Northwestern Medicine scientists have found a molecule that stops the growth of an aggressive pediatric brain tumor. The tumor is always fatal and primarily strikes children under 10 years old.

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Scientists gain new insight into early brain pathology of schizophrenia using adult skin cells

The skin cells of four adults with schizophrenia have provided an unprecedented “window” into how the disease began while they were still in the womb, according to a recent paper in Schizophrenia Research.

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New study aims to better understand major factors affecting African American cancer survivors

The Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University School of Medicine will launch the nation’s largest study of African American cancer survivors to better understand disproportionately high incidence and mortality from cancer and its impact on this specific patient population.

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Study finding suggests new ways in which genetic mutations may cause brain disorders

Many kids say they love their mom and dad equally, but there are times when even the best prefers one parent over the other. The same can be said for how the body’s cells treat our DNA instructions. It has long been thought that each copy – one inherited from mom and one from dad – is treated the same. A new study from scientists at the University of Utah School of Medicine shows that it is not uncommon for cells in the brain to preferentially activate one copy over the other.

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Mercy gynecologic oncologist recognized as “Top Doctor” for 2017 by Castle Connolly Medical

Mercy Medical Center has announced that Dwight D. Im, M.D., FACOG, Medical Director of The Neil B. Rosenshein, M.D., Institute for Gynecologic Care at Mercy, The Gynecologic Oncology Center at Mercy and The National Institute of Robotic Surgery at Mercy has been recognized by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. as a “Top Doctor” for 2017.

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People living in neighbourhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees less likely to suffer from mental health

People living in neighbourhoods with more birds, shrubs and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress, according to research by academics at the University of Exeter, the British Trust for Ornithology and the University of Queensland.

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