Written into Death with Dignity laws is the requirement the state’s Health Department must issue annual reports of information collected during the medication request process.
Oregon’s Public Health Division recently issued their 15th annual report, and consistent with all previous years, the data continue to show the law works the way it’s intended: rarely used, but providing comfort to countless individuals who know they have options at the end of their lives.
Some quick facts about the usage of Oregon’s law in 2012:
- 77 people hastened their deaths under the Oregon law.
- This accounts for 0.2% of all deaths in Oregon.
- The top three concerns people expressed to their doctors when requesting the medication were centered around wanting control over their final days.
- Of the end-of-life concerns expressed, the least common was “financial implications of treatment.”
The numbers also show people who request the medication under Oregon’s law are receiving high quality end-of-life care:
- 97% of the people who died using Oregon’s law in 2012 were enrolled in hospice. (By way of comparison, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization estimates 45% of deaths in the US are under the care of hospice.)
- Over 97% of the people who used the law died at home.
These 15 years of statistics reiterate the facts about how Death with Dignity laws work and refute all of the opponents’ fear mongering assertions. In fact, the data have been so consistent over the years, this report was published without any fanfare and attracted very little media attention. The same ol’ story, it seems, is too boring to be noticed. That’s unfortunate when people who disagree with a person’s right to decide the manner and timing of his or her own death will continue to pitch the same myths to make their case.
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