Colorado releases second year of assisted dying data

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Colorado has just released its second annual assisted dying report

The USA state of Colorado legalised assisted dying via its End Of Life Options [#145] Act in 2016. Its Department of Public Health & Environment has just published its second annual report of statistics of medications dispensed and deaths.

Unfortunately, the Colorado statistics report only all deaths of those prescribed life-ending medications, not those who died using the medication.

In 2017, 70 people who had been prescribed life-ending medication died, representing 0.19% of all deaths.* With Oregon and Washington states clearly showing around 30% of people prescribed lethal medication die without using it, that represents 49 people and 0.13% of all deaths.

In 2018, 104 people who had been prescribed life-ending medications died, representing 0.28% of all deaths. Adjusted to those who would have used their medication, that represents 73 people and 0.20% of all deaths.

The 2017 data is very similar to California's, which also legalised assisted dying in 2016. In 2017, 0.15% of Californians died using its End Of Life Options Act, with 35% of those who had been prescribed the medication having not used it. (California's 2018 annual report has not been released yet.)

The End Of Life Options Acts of both states stipulate that to qualify, a person must be an adult with decision-making capacity and have a terminal illness with death anticipated within six months. Patients may self-administer lethal medication prescribed by their physician: no other person may administer.

 

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* Total deaths official statistics for Colorado and California not yet available for 2017/2018: total deaths for 2017 and 2018 were calculated using linear extrapolation of USA Centers for Disease Control total deaths data for 1999-2016.


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