Answer D. Psychiatric assessment is NOT required. The written request has to come from the patient
Psychiatrists may be unlikely to be asked their opinion about the mental health or capacity status of a patient who requests physician-assisted suicide (PAS). None of the current state statutes specifically mandate a mental health evaluation by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist prior to the writing of a lethal prescription. Instead, the laws place the responsibility for determining the requesting patient’s decision-making capacity and mental health status on the “attending physician.”
However, this should not deter us from promoting and protecting the interests of the vulnerable patients we see every day. We have an obligation to be informed about the issues at stake; to understand the legal landscape as it exists currently and as it evolves; to watch out for the slippery slope that many of us are concerned about; and to educate our colleagues, trainees, and the general public about psychiatry’s values with respect to preventing suicide.
For more on this topic, see From “Delete Your Account” to “Delete Yourself”: Legislated Suicide and the Role of Psychiatry, on which this quiz is based. Image ©BoguslawMazur/Shutterstock