Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

111 terminally ill end lives under new California law

111 terminally ill end lives under new California law 111 terminally ill end lives under new California law
Melissa Porter | 29 June, 2017, 08:51

Compassion & Choices June 1 report about the first year of the End of Life Option Act showed at least 504 terminally ill adults in California have received prescriptions for medical aid in dying.

According to the data generated from forms doctors were required to submit between June 9 and December 31, 2016, a total of 191 people received life-ending drugs after being diagnosed with having less than six months to live and 111 people took them and died.

Doctor-assisted deaths were attributed to six of every 10,000 California deaths in the six-month reporting period, according to the state's Health Department. Race figures include people with multiple ethnicities, which accounts for the discrepancy between the announced total and individual numbers of people who took the drugs. However, the number of deaths from doctor-prescribed lethal drugs was just 16 in the first year of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act and has been on an upward trend since.

Most were white - 89.5 percent - college educated, receiving hospice or palliative care and had health insurance, either provided by the state or private carriers. A majority (59%) had been diagnosed with cancer.

Twenty-one more patients died before they could take the drugs.

A total of 173 doctors filled out prescriptions for the life-ending drugs.

State officials warn that people should be cautious in drawing hasty conclusions from this report, as it only covers six months of data. Last year, the state reported 2014 people who received prescriptions for life-ending drugs, 133 of whom died.

While California is significantly more diverse than OR, the California Dept. of Health report almost mirrors what has been occurring in Oregon.

The law helped Californians such as former Marine Tom House, who experienced a precipitous decline in his health as a result of heart disease, colon cancer and failing eyesight.