Hun­dreds of Cal­i­for­ni­ans re­ceived life-end­ing pre­scrip­tions

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS -

At least 504 ter­mi­nally ill Cal­i­for­ni­ans have re­quested a pre­scrip­tion for life-end­ing drugs since a state law al­low­ing physi­cian-as­sisted deaths went into ef­fect in June 2016, mark­ing the first pub­licly re­leased data on how the prac­tice is play­ing out in the na­tion’s most pop­u­lous state.

The num­ber rep­re­sents only those who have con­tacted Com­pas­sion & Choices, an ad­vo­cacy group that pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on the process. The or­ga­ni­za­tion be­lieves the over­all fig­ure to be much higher. State data has not yet been re­leased.

How the new law is uti­lized in trend-set­ting Cal­i­for­nia fore­shad­ows what would hap­pen if the prac­tice spreads na­tion­wide. Some see pro­vid­ing the choice to the dy­ing as a log­i­cal evo­lu­tion in a med­i­cal care sys­tem ad­vanced in help­ing peo­ple live longer but lim­ited in pre­vent­ing slow, painful deaths.

Ore­gon was the first state to adopt such a law in 1997. It said 204 peo­ple re­ceived pre­scrip­tions in 2016 and, of those, 133 peo­ple died from in­gest­ing the drugs, in­clud­ing 19 pre­scrip­tion re­cip­i­ents from prior years. Most were older than 65 and had cancer.

Doc­tor-as­sisted deaths are also le­gal in Colorado, Mon­tana, Ver­mont, Washington state and Washington, D.C.

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