Bottom Line: An examination of a combined 28 years of data finds similarities in the characteristics and illnesses of patients requesting medical aid in dying in Oregon and Washington. The study included 3,368 prescriptions written for medical aid in dying, with 2,558 patients dying by lethal ingestion of medication, in the two states from 1998 to 2017 in Oregon and from 2009 to 2017 in Washington. Most of the patients were insured, non-Hispanic white individuals with some level of college education, 65 or older, and diagnosed with cancer. Loss of autonomy, impaired quality of life and loss of dignity were the most common reasons for pursuing medical aid in dying. Limitations of the study include physicians, not patients, providing the underlying reasons for requesting medical aid in dying as part of a follow-up questionnaire.
Authors: Charles D. Blanke, M.D., Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, and coauthors
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