Code of the District of Columbia

§ 7–621. Definitions.

*NOTE: This section includes amendments by emergency legislation that will expire on June 10, 2021. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation affecting this section, click this link: Permanent Version.*

For the purposes of this subchapter, the term:

(1) “Attending physician” means the physician selected by, or assigned to, the patient who has primary responsibility for the treatment and care of the patient.

(2) “Declaration” means a witnessed document in writing, voluntarily executed by the declarant in accordance with the requirements of § 7-622.

(2A) “Domestic partnership” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 32-701(4).

(2B) "Electronic presence" means when one or more witnesses are in a different physical location than the declarant but can observe and communicate with the declarant and one another by using technology having electrical, digital, magnetic, wireless, optical, electromagnetic, or similar capabilities to the same extent as if the witnesses and declarant were physically present with one another.

(3) “Life-sustaining procedure” means any medical procedure or intervention, which, when applied to a qualified patient, would serve only to artificially prolong the dying process and where, in the judgment of the attending physician and a second physician, death will occur whether or not such procedure or intervention is utilized. The term “life-sustaining procedure” shall not include the administration of medication or the performance of any medical procedure deemed necessary to provide comfort care or to alleviate pain.

(4) “Physician” means a person authorized to practice medicine in the District of Columbia.

(5) “Qualified patient” means a patient who has executed a declaration in accordance with this subchapter and who has been diagnosed and certified in writing to have a terminal condition by 2 physicians who have personally examined the patient, one of whom shall be the attending physician.

(5A) "Sign" means with present intent to authenticate or adopt a record to:

(A) Execute or adopt a tangible symbol; or

(B) Affix to or associate with the record an electronic signature.

(6) “Terminal condition” means an incurable condition caused by injury, disease, or illness, which, regardless of the application of life-sustaining procedures, would, within reasonable medical judgment, produce death, and where the application of life-sustaining procedures serve only to postpone the moment of death of the patient.


(Feb. 25, 1982, D.C. Law 4-69, § 2, 28 DCR 5047; Apr. 24, 2007, D.C. Law 16-305, § 24, 53 DCR 6198; Sept. 12, 2008, D.C. Law 17-231, § 16(a), 55 DCR 6758; Mar. 17, 2021, D.C. Act 24-30, § 814(a), 68 DCR 003101.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-2421.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-625.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-305, in par. (5), substituted “have” for “be afflicted with”.

D.C. Law 17-231 added par. (2A).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 814(a) of Coronavirus Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2021 (D.C. Act 24-30, Mar. 17, 2021, 68 DCR 003101).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 814(a) of Coronavirus Support Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-405, Aug. 19, 2020, 67 DCR 10235).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 814(a) of Coronavirus Support Temporary Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Law 23-130, Oct. 9, 2020, 67 DCR 8622).