Forego Treatment

Not Starting Treatment or stopping Treatment

For some terminally ill people, aggressive treatment may not be helpful and may prolong the dying process. Under some circumstances, aggressive treatment may increase suffering, impair a person’s remaining quality of life, or even shorten life.

Many people are unaware that stopping treatment can result in a peaceful death. For example, people on dialysis for kidney failure may be able to die peacefully by stopping dialysis. However, stopping medical treatments may increase discomfort or suffering. Consulting with your physician and arranging for palliative (comfort) care are essential before stopping treatment.

Under some circumstances stopping treatment can be combined with hospice and palliative care and/or voluntary stopping eating and drinking (see below) to shorten the dying process and reduce suffering.

Advocacy and Public Policy

End of Life Washington is pursuing legislation in 2021 to support end-of-life options for all Washingtonians, including establishing a person’s right to decline oral food and water during the final stages of dementia, by advance directive, the same way other terminally ill people can decline life-sustaining medical treatments.

Sign-up for our e-news to receive action alerts about this legislation and learn more. 

End of Life Washington provides advice and support to people considering all end-of-life decisions, including Death with Dignity. For more information about any of these end-of-life options and to request our free client support services, contact End of Life Washington – or 206.256.1636.