People in Washington state with terminal illnesses are not deciding en mass to end their own lives. That’s the upshot of a new study some four years after Washington’s Death with Dignity law was approved by voters.
The study, published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine, followed patients at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance who had a terminal diagnosis and requested information on legally ending their own lives.
114 patients who made inquiries between March of 2009 and December of 2011 were followed. Of those, 39 percent decided not to request the prescription to end their lives.
The lead researcher was Dr. Elizabeth Loggers, an oncologist and medical director at the Alliance’s Supportive and Palliative Care Service. She says she believes the results mean that good end-of-life-care is an option.
"What we’re reassured by is the fact the majority of these people—the vast majority—have talked to their families about this choice, they go on to die at home, and they die with hospice," Loggers says. "And those, at least in my mind, are all indicators that the quality of the death that they’re having is being maintained.”
Loggers also says that the patients who received the prescription but decided not to take it were reported to feel a greater level of control over their lives and their illness.
Copyright 2013 KUOW