Legislature(1997 - 1998)

05/07/1998 04:10 PM Senate JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
            HB 383 -EXPECTED DEATHS THAT OCCUR AT HOME                         
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR announced HB 383 to be up for consideration.                   
REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS, sponsor, said when a person is                      
terminally ill and at home and has a relatively short life                     
expectancy, various home health services are available.  Currently,            
a lot of these services believe that when a death occurs, they are             
required to call the police department to investigate the death, an            
invasive procedure to the family.  Police confiscate medications,              
view and photograph the body, etc.  HB 383 puts a plan in place and            
creates an "expected death form" to be signed by the attending                 
physician and the terminally ill person.  The signed form is filed             
with the local police department or whatever agency is in charge of            
that area and negates the need for police notification at the time             
of death.                                                                      
SENATOR ELLIS asked if this would preclude the ability of police to            
determine if an assisted suicide took place.                                   
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said objections from the "hemlock society"                
have been expressed.  He said home health service professionals                
have the same training and ethics code as hospital staff.  He                  
thought that would not be an issue because of the professional                 
nature of the people in charge.                                                
SENATOR ELLIS said statistically an assisted suicide is more likely            
to happen at a private residence rather than a licensed health care            
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said assisted suicide only happens with the               
complete cooperation of everyone involved and he didn't see that               
type of cooperation coming from a home health care professional.               
SENATOR ELLIS said he would support the legislation because he                 
doesn't have that concern.                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS said he has conferred with medical examiners              
and Department of Public Safety officials.  The legislation allows             
communities with such a concern to pass a local ordinance.                     
MR. ELMER LINDSTROM, Department of Health and Social Services                  
(DHSS), said the policy of responding to all deaths originally came            
from the Office of the Coroner which no longer exists. It was never            
a statutory requirement.  He added that the State Medical Examiner             
has no problem with this bill.                                                 
SENATOR PARNELL moved to pass HB 383 from committee with individual            
recommendations.  There were no objections and it was so ordered.              

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