A Statistical Portrait of Death with Dignity Patients
By Frank A. Oteri, Curious Content Team
One of the many themes capable of evoking a wide array of emotional response in Nick Payne’s Constellations revolves around an individual’s choice in terms of their right to die when faced with a terminal diagnosis. Commonly known as death with dignity or physician assisted death, there are five states (OR, WA, VT, CA, CO) that have established legislation allowing physicians to actively assist terminal patients who choose to control their end of life process. An additional state (MT) has affirmed death with dignity through a State Supreme Court ruling which determined “that the consent of a terminally ill, competent adult to lethal medication would protect the physician from liability for homicide.”
Since California and Colorado’s laws were enacted in 2016 and there are no current public reporting requirements in Montana and Vermont, only Oregon and Washington publish annual data reports containing demographics that can be utilized to delve into the characteristics of patients that choose physician-assisted death. With this in mind, the following information is intended to provide readers with a statistical portrait of death with dignity patients based upon statistics from Oregon and Washington for 2015, the most recent year in which both states reported.
431 (Total number of prescriptions issued to aid in dying)
298 (Total number of patients who used prescription to aid in dying)
69% (Percentage of patients who used prescription to aid in dying)
49% (Percentage of male patients issued prescriptions to aid in dying)
51% (Percentage of female patients issued prescriptions to aid in dying)
20 – 102 (Age range of patients issued prescriptions to aid in dying)
Visit the Death with Dignity National Center for more information on this topic.