FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 7, 2014) — An end-of-life order known as “medical order for scope of treatment” would be allowed in Kentucky under a bill that passed the Kentucky House on Thursday on an 86-7 vote.
Medical orders for scope of treatment spell out a patient’s wishes for their end-of-life care. Unlike advance directives, the orders are considered to be physician’s orders and are signed by both the patient or patient’s legal surrogate, and the patient’s physician.
A standard form for the orders would be developed by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure for use statewide, according to the bill, House Bill 145.
“As a physician, I want to help people live and have a quality of life as long as they can,” said Rep. David Watkins, D-Henderson, the bill’s sponsor. “But I sure don’t want to prolong suffering and agony … it’s our duty to make sure we keep our people in the final hours and final days of their life as comfortable as possible, and also to follow their wishes as close to the letter of the law as we can.”
If a patient whose care is directed by a medical order for scope of treatment is not competent to sign the document his or her self, someone else would be chosen to speak for the patient, Watkins said.
Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Ft. Thomas, proposed an amendment that was voted down that would have prohibited such orders from allowing food and water to be withheld from a patient unless death was “inevitable and imminent.”
“When a person is in a dire physical condition, who may not know what they are doing, that decision to withhold food and water should not be made unless a power of attorney is granted, or a guardianship is appointed,” said Fischer. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 18-69.
HB 145 now goes to the Senate for its consideration.