OR Law Allows Patient Advocates for People with Disabilities in Hospitals
Friday, July 10, 2020
SALEM, Ore. -- Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill into law this week ensuring that a support person can join Oregonians with disabilities in medical facilities to help with their health decisions.
Jennifer Parrish Taylor, Northwest regional policy manager for the organization Compassion & Choices said this bill was needed because patients' advocates were being told they couldn't come into hospital emergency rooms due to COVID-19.
"Folks have a right to have a list of approved support people to come with them to an emergency room when they're seeking services," Parrish Taylor explained. "And also, if they have an advanced directive or POLST, that that has to be honored by the health-care providers."
POLSTs are Portable Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. These legal documents are especially important for people with chronic and terminal illnesses for guiding doctors on their end-of-life decisions.
According to Parrish Taylor, Compassion & Choices and the Death with Dignity National Center submitted testimony on the original language of the bill.
"Our concern was that this could have unintended consequences for folks who didn't have disabilities, who were also facing emergency situations where they too had advanced directives and POLSTs, and had proxies -- and just ensuring that, in those situations as well, those are honored," she noted.
She said state lawmakers responded, and amended the bill.
Parrish Taylor added that this is an important step for the Oregon Legislature to take during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"I understand that we're in a pandemic," she said. "But civil rights aren't suspended during a pandemic."
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