Monday, January 2, 2023

Lethal Non-Compliance with Washington’s “Death with Dignity Act”

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Richard Doerflinger has written an indepth investigative report: Lethal Non-Compliance with Washington's "Death with Dignity Act"

In his report Doerflinger examines the recent Washington state assisted suicide reports and proves that a significant number assisted suicide deaths were non-compliant with the law. Doerflinger's report was published by the Charlotte Lozier Institute on December 20, 2022.

Those who follow the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition know that I have written about the non-compliance with assisted suicide in Oregon. My report on the 2021 assisted suicide deaths in Oregon points out:
According to the 2021 Oregon assisted suicide report.
  • There were 238 reported assisted suicide deaths.
  • There were 383 lethal prescriptions written which is up from 373 in 2020.
  • 20 of the deaths, the lethal drugs were prescribed in previous years.
  • 2 people were referred for a psychiatric evaluation.
  • 1 person ingested the assisted suicide drugs but did not die.
  • 106 people received lethal prescriptions, but their "ingestion" status is unknown.
In Oregon, in 2021, there were 106 people who received a lethal prescription but their "ingestion" status is unknown. Some of these people may have died by assisted suicide but no report was submitted.

The possible under-reporting of assisted suicide has been increasing in Oregon. In 2020 there were 80 people who received lethal prescriptions but their "ingestion" status was unknown and in 2019 there were 58.

In his investigative report, Doerflinger uncovers possible under-reporting of assisted suicide and non-compliance with the assisted suicide act in Washington state.

Doerflinger's investigative report states:
The reports state that 299 participants received the lethal medication in 2019, 340 in 2020, and 400 in 2021. At least 291 patients died from the lethal drugs in 2021 — the highest number of cases ever reported by the state, and eight times as many as in 2009, the year the law took effect. Forty-four patients died of other causes, and another 52 died but the Department says it does not know whether this was from ingesting the drugs. This means that at least 44 lethal overdose prescriptions, and potentially as many as 96, were not ingested by the patient and their whereabouts are unknown. The Department does not claim that any patient was referred for a psychological evaluation in these years.

Most disturbing, however, is the admission by these reports that in many cases the legally required forms were never submitted by physicians.

For the 400 participants who received the lethal dose in 2021, missing required documentation includes:

-46 written and witnessed requests from patients
-35 attending physician compliance forms
-47 consulting physician compliance forms
-20 pharmacy dispensing forms
-39 after-death reporting forms*
Doerflinger further establishes a table of non-compliant assisted suicide reports and shows that non-compliance has existed since assisted suicide was legalized in 2009 and the percentage of non-compliance with the law has dramatically increased in the past 3 years.

Further to proving non-compliance with the law, Doerflinger proves that non-compliance is criminal. Doerflinger proves that the statutes prohibiting assisting a suicide remain in Washington state's laws, but an exception to those laws was created when assisted suicide was legalized.

Doerflinger states:
In short, if a physician prescribes or provides a drug overdose so a patient can take his or her own life, but does not comply with the DWDA’s requirements, the physician’s actions do not fulfill a legitimate medical purpose and are not lawful. That physician can be prosecuted for promoting a suicide attempt or committing a controlled substances homicide.
The question is - will the authorities prosecute the violators of the law?


Anonymous said...

Can these drugs be consumed by a person without their knowledge? A person gets a prescription for maid drugs then administers them to someone else without their knowledge maybe in another state or province so as to make it more difficult to track? The perfect crime, at least until caught.

Alex Schadenberg said...

I don't usually publish Anonymous comments, but the question deserves an answer.

Yes someone can use these lethal drug cocktails to kill another person, without that person knowing what they are consuming.

Yes, it can used to murder someone.