Code of the District of Columbia

§ 7–621. Definitions.

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).

(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.

(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.)

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).