How the Death with Dignity law is being used in Washingtonon April 11, 2013 @ 12:36 pm (Updated: 3:19 pm - 4/11/13 )
In 2008, Washington voters passed a referendum on "Death with Dignity" allowing doctor-assisted death when patients are dealing with a fatal disease, like end-stage cancer. Now, we're getting our fist look at how the law is being used.
In an article published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers looked at Death with Dignity cases from March 2009 through December 2011 at Seattle's Cancer Care Alliance.
During that time period, 255 people in Washington state were prescribed the medication to participate in the program.
At the Cancer Care Alliance, 114 patients asked about information on physician-assisted death, 40 of them received the prescription, but only 24 ended up taking the drug.
"Our advocates, the people who work closely with the patients during this process, have reported that patients and their families are expressing gratitude for having the medication, even if they eventually never take it," says Oncologist Dr. Elizabeth Trice-Loggers.
Trice-Loggers says when they do discuss Death with Dignity, it's usually during a larger conversation about hospice care, choices for handling varying levels of pain, and other issues.
"Our mission hasn't changed. We are trying to cure cancer, and we view every death as a tragedy. But we also know that we can't cure cancer every time," says Trice-Loggers.
There are about 12,000 deaths per year due to cancer in Washington. Trice-Loggers says the people who participate in Death with Dignity are a very small percentage of that.
'Trying to Survive'
The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is desperately trying to grow its membership
A King County councilmember wants to see body cameras on sheriff's deputies
What We Learned
Danny O'Neil says the gap between Seattle & the rest of the NFL isn't as big as we thought
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.