Death with Dignity laws take what’s happening in the shadows everyday, in every state, and create an open, safeguarded process to allow terminally ill people to decide their own fate. These laws protect everyone involved—patients, their families, doctors and pharmacists—and provide a transparent process which leaves no doubt the decision rests solely in the hands of people who are dying and no one else.
As part of this transparency, the Washington State Department of Health is required by law to report information collected during the medication request and dispensing process. The 5th annual report was recently issued. One of my colleagues in the Death with Dignity movement explained, “there are no surprises, and the law remains remarkably unremarkable.”
After five years, more Washingtonians have come to understand Washington’s Death with Dignity Act, and not surprisingly, more people requested the prescribed medication.
Some quick facts about the usage of Washington’s law in 2013:
- 119 people hastened their deaths under the Washington Death with Dignity Act, and a fourth of the people who requested the medication didn’t take it.
- Prescriptions were written by 89 different physicians.
- 77% of the participants had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, an additional 15% with ALS.
The numbers also show people who request the medication under Washington’s law are receiving high quality end-of-life care:
- 86% of the people who died after exercising their rights allowed under Washington’s law in 2013 were enrolled in hospice.
- Over 96% of the people who used the law died at home or in a long term care facility.
Much like the 16 years of data from Oregon, these five years of Washington’s statistics reveal no surprises. The patterns in the data haven’t changed.
View full post on Death with Dignity National Center
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