The American Medical News has published an extensive article on Oregon’s Assisted Suicide law after 10 years.
The article covered several important concerns such as the fact that people who live with depression do not seem to be protected by the law anymore. The article stated:
“Numerous studies of patients in Oregon and elsewhere found that depressed patients are significantly more likely to seek physician-assisted suicide. Any person seeking a deadly prescription should receive a mental health consultation, according to a health care professionals guidebook prepared by a task force convened by Oregon Health & Science University’s Center for Ethics in Health Care.
Only 10% of patients who have died under the law were referred for psychiatric evaluation, which is legally required if the prescribing or consulting physician believes a patient may have depression or another mental illness. In 2007, no patients were referred for consultations.”
The article also pointed out that their have been flaws in the application of the act. The article stated:
“But use of the Death With Dignity Act has not been flawless. Though 94% of patients died without complications, 19 patients regurgitated the medication before dying. David Pruitt, a lung cancer patient, awakened 65 hours after taking the dose prescribed to kill him.
“What the hell happened?” he reportedly said after waking up. “Why am I not dead?”
Pruitt died of cancer two weeks later.”
The article also bought into some of the false ideas that are promoted by the euthanasia lobby group, Compassion and Choices. The article appears to state that legalizing assisted suicide has improved hospice/palliative care and other end of life care concerns. The article stated:
“Since Medicare began reimbursing hospice services in 1982, the number of patients choosing this end-of-life care option has grown steadily. One in three Americans now dies under the care of a hospice program, and the number of programs has grown almost 50% since 1997. In Oregon, overall hospice use has jumped 84% since the use of the Death With Dignity Act in 1998. Nearly six in 10 dying Medicare-age patients there received hospice care in 2005, the most recent year for which data are available. Oregon placed ninth among states on hospice utilization in 2005.”
It is a false comment to connect the increased utilization of hospice/palliative care with the introduction of assisted suicide in Oregon simply because in the same time-period hospice/palliative care has grown exponentially throughout the USA, not only Oregon.
The most important facts that the American Medical News and other articles fail to report is that 73% of all deaths by assisted suicide in Oregon are facilitated by the Compassion and Choices lobby group, who have a stable of physicians who are willing to prescribe death to their patients.
We will never know what is actually happening in Oregon when the reporting is done by the physicians who prescribe death and Compassion and Choices remains the primary provider of death in Oregon. The law remains covered in secrecy and these extensive reports are essentially numbers without real personal stories or truth connected.
Amednews.com - http://www.ama-assn.org:80/amednews/2008/05/12/prsa0512.htm