House passes bill creating new type of order for end-of-life care, to be signed by patient and physician

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 an 86-7 vote Thursday, March 6.

Unlike advance directives, such orders spell out a patient’s wishes for end-of-life care are also signed by the patient’s physician.

A standard form for the orders would be developed by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure for use statewide.

“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 sponsor of House Bill 145. “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.”

The House defeated, 18-69, an amendment by Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Fort Thomas, that would have prohibited such orders from allowing food and water to be withheld from a patient unless death was “inevitable and imminent.” The bill now goes to the Senate.

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