oregon’s experience with physician assisted suicide …

… a group of prominent British medical and legal experts has authored a report summarizing the Oregon experience with physician assisted suicide (PAS).

A significant concern noted is that although early in the Oregon experience one-third of those who committed suicide received psych assessment and treatment for depression and other conditions, most recently none of the 59 patients who completed physician assisted suicide had any sort of psych evaluation.

The author’s conclusions …

– the number of PAS deaths annually in Oregon has been rising – it is nearly four times the level of 12 years ago.  If we extrapolate Oregon’s 2009 experience to Britain, on current levels we could be looking at more than 1,000 deaths a year from physician-assisted suicide.

– the reluctance of many physicians in Oregon to participate in PAS is likely, given the opposition of the majority of British doctors to legalisation of the practice here, to be replicated in Britain if an ‘assisted dying’ law were to be enacted.  In that event we could expect to see the emergence of Oregon-style ‘doctor shopping’, with the risks this poses to the assessment of applicants for PAS.

– the absence of any objective check on how prescribed lethal drugs are used puts qualifying applicants at heightened risk of abuse or manipulation once the approval process has been completed and the drugs have been issued.

The Boston Pilot story, a story from the UK.