California End of Life Option Act (EOLOA)

Introduction to the California End of Life Option Act (EOLOA)

The California End of Life Option Act (EOLOA) allows a terminally ill adult with a life expectancy of six months or less to end their life with an aid-in-dying drug. The terminally ill person must be a California resident and must request the drug from their physician. Participating in this end-of-life option is voluntary for both patients and physicians.

People who choose to end their lives this way are not considered to have died by suicide if they carefully follow the steps of the law. Physicians who prescribe the aid-in-dying drug are not subject to legal liability or professional sanction if they follow all the steps outlined in the law.

The End of Life Option Act at UCLA Health

At UCLA Health, patients with advanced diseases receive personalized, comprehensive care every step of the way. We work with our patients to determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on many factors, while ensuring that our patients’ goals guide the treatments they receive. As patients approach the end of life, the goals and expected outcomes of medical treatments often change. Our team is committed to having in-depth, deliberate conversations with the patient, caregivers, and loved ones. We come together to make the most of this final phase.

Customized and compassionate end-of-life care

Some patients with a terminal condition choose the EOLOA because they wish to take control of their last days. Other patients select this option because their symptoms, pain, or suffering have become overwhelming. In these circumstances, the End of Life Option Act permits a willing physician to respond to an eligible patient’s request with a prescription for an aid-in-dying medication.

At UCLA Health, our process also includes meetings with a dedicated clinical consultant. The consultant focuses on fulfilling the patient’s request while ensuring that our team provides the best possible treatment and support. We are all committed to offering our patients the best possible experience at the end of life.

Who can use the EOLOA?

To receive the aid-in-dying drug, a person must:

  • Be 18 years or older and a resident of California
  • Have a terminal disease that cannot be cured or reversed and is expected to result in death within six months
  • Have the capacity to make medical decisions and not have impaired judgment due to a mental disorder
  • Have the physical ability to take and ingest the drug

Steps in the EOLOA process

The EOLOA process takes time, and there are several important milestones you and your doctor will need to meet along the way. At any point in this process, you are free to change your mind and decide whether you want to continue. The following is a brief overview of the steps:

  • You request the aid-in-dying drug from your doctor on two separate occasions, at least 48 hours apart. You also make a third request, which you write on a special form.
  • Your doctor begins the process of ensuring that you legally qualify for the EOLOA.
  • Your doctor refers you to a UCLA Health clinical consultant who will work with you and your doctor throughout the entire process.
  • Your doctor explains all your end-of-life options in detail and encourages you to discuss these options with your family and loved ones. 
  • Your doctor examines you and confirms that you have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of less than six months. Your doctor also evaluates your mental health to ensure that you are capable of making the decision to take an aid-in-dying drug.
  • Your doctor explains how to take the drug and answers your questions.
  • Your doctor writes the prescription for the aid-in-dying drug and you sign a consent form for the prescription to be sent to the pharmacy.
  • You (or a caregiver or loved one) retrieve the drug from the pharmacy.
  • You ingest the aid-in-dying drug according to the instructions. You must be in a private place when you take the drug, and another person must be with you.
  • Your caregiver or loved ones dispose of any remaining aid-in-dying drug according to the directions.

Where can I find more information about the EOLOA?

This page only provides a summary of the process and requirements of the EOLOA. To find detailed information, visit these pages:

End of Life Option Act Resources & Materials
EOLOA Frequently Asked Questions