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State, Heal Thy Physicians: An Assessment of the Louisiana Natural Death Act

Author: PAMELA FRANK, PETER L. CRUISE, SHARON K. PARSONS, RONALD STUTES and SCOTT FRUCHTER
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 27 No. 3

In our society, state governments have the major role in
regulating physician behavior and actions related to end-of-life decision
making. However, in the current confusing and conflicted legal
environment, how well are state governments doing with this serious
responsibility? The authors of this article report the results of the first
statewide survey of Louisiana physicians regarding their knowledge of
and compliance with specific parts of one state government’s attempt to
regulate end-of-life decision making: the Louisiana Natural Death Act
(LNDA). Physician respondents were asked to indicate their level of
familiarity with the LNDA and several questions examined physician
compliance with specific sections contained in the statute. Among
many things, the survey revealed most physicians (74%) were not
familiar with even the basic provisions of the LNDA, and had not
received either medical school or subsequent post graduate training in
this area. Based on the results of this survey, the authors offer several
policy recommendations that could enhance physician knowledge and
subsequent compliance with the LNDA.

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