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Latest Report on Oregon Death with Dignity Act Shows Law Continues to Work As Intended

March 11, 2020

On March 6, 2020, the Oregon Health Authority released the annual report for the 22nd year of implementation of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, the world’s first assisted dying statute.

In 2019, 112 Oregon physicians wrote 290 prescriptions to dying Oregonians who qualified for the Act; 188 people died using the medications obtained under the law.

Similar to previous years, most patients

  • were 65 years or over (75 percent), with the median age of 74;
  • had cancer (68 percent);
  • were on hospice at the time of death (90 percent);
  • died at home (90 percent);
  • had some form of health insurance (99 percent).

Consistent with past reports, the most frequently reported end-of-life concerns were loss of autonomy (87%), decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (90%), and loss of dignity (72%).

During 2019, the estimated rate of deaths under the law was 51.9 per 10,000 total deaths in the state.

Since the first Oregonian took medication under the law in 1998, a total of 2,518 people have received prescriptions under the Act, of whom 1,657, or 66 percent, have died from ingesting the medications.

These figures continue to underscore not only that only a small number of people use the law but also that more than one third of those who received the medication took it, finding great comfort in merely knowing it was available to them.

Read the full text and history of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act here.

2 Comments.

Polly Hough
April 14, 2020 at 12:09 pm

Thank you for this very helpful information. I can only hope our state, Utah, will adopt a similar law.

William Gronvall
April 14, 2020 at 1:17 pm

My name is William Gronvall, I’m interested in DIGNITAS and had just received the paperwork when the the virus hit, I missed the due date, but I don’t think that matters much. My main concern was being able to fly Switzerland without special restrictions because of the virus, my situation is a bit different than most, as my inability to control my arthritis pain any longer would be my deciding factor, I’d hate to suffocate with the virus and be in intolerable pain also. This all may be premature as one of my pain specialist says there are additives to my pain pump that might make my situation more tolerable, but after all the years I’ve had it and the horror of trying Prialt for about a year, I’m doubtful much can be done.
Thank you, Bill

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