Feed on
Posts
Comments

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported 17 September 2016:

Waiting for ‘the die medicine’

By Tracy Seipel, Bay Area News Group

For 78-year-old Judy Dale, this wasn’t the way California’s new aid-in-dying law was supposed to work.

The San Francisco grandmother, her body riddled with cancer, had hoped to die on her own terms when the time came by ingesting lethal medications prescribed by a physician. But the panic-filled weeks she spent this summer trying to find a doctor — any doctor — willing to participate in the state’s End of Life Option Act were running out.

By the time she located one, it was too late, and when Dale drew her final breath Tuesday morning, it was not the kind of death she — or her family — had envisioned.

“She did not want to die that way, too confused to say goodbye,” said daughter Catherine Dale, crying over the memory of her bedridden mother begging daily to know how much longer she would have to wait for “the die medicine.”

It’s a scene being played out throughout California, as scores of terminally ill patients are learning to their dismay — and outrage — that the state’s new aid-in-dying law comes with no guarantee of finding a doctor.

“What does this law mean in California?” asked Catherine Dale, still seething over the circumstances at UC San Francisco that left her mother scrambling at the last minute to find a physician.

“The law, to me, means you still need to go to Oregon.”

That’s where the nation’s first aid-in-dying law, the Death with Dignity Act, was enacted in 1997. And almost 20 years later, a network of doctors openly willing to help the terminally ill die has grown there over the years. Ultimately, that could happen here.

Similar legislation has been passed in Washington, Montana* and Vermont, with the help of Compassion & Choices, the same nonprofit group that supported California’s version of the law, signed last October by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Three months after it took effect on June 9, however, there are still “challenges getting everyone up to speed,” said the group’s spokesman, Sean Crowley.

The state Department of Public Health, which will track the number of Californians who request prescriptions and those who use the drugs, is not releasing figures until next July, when the law will have been in place for about a year. So far, at least 50 Californians have received prescriptions Continue Reading »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Medscape reported 20 September 2016 on a Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium (PCOS) 2016

SAN FRANCISCO ― Oregon was the first state in the United States to enact a physician aid in dying law, known as Death With Dignity Act (DWD). Now, almost 20 years later, there is little evidence that it has been abused.

Since the passage of the law in 1997, a total of 1545 people have been written prescriptions under the DWD in Oregon, and 991 patients have died from ingesting the lethal medications.

A majority of the patients had cancer, said Charles Blanke, MD, professor of medicine, Knight Cancer Institute, at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland.

“Users are predominantly elderly, white, and well educated,” he added.

“Almost all patients are in hospice, and almost all take the medications at home after telling loved ones of their decision,” said Dr Blanke, who provided an update on Oregon’s experience here at the Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium (PCOS) 2016.

It is relatively rare for patients to use DWD because they were suffering from inadequate pain palliation, he explained. The most common reasons were related to quality of life, autonomy, and dignity.

DOSAGE QUESTIONS

The majority of patients took the medication at home (94%), with a “smattering doing it in a nursing home or equivalent (5%).

“Only one single patient was admitted to a hospital at the time of medication administration,” he pointed out.

As for the drugs used, pure pentabarbitol was at one time the drug of choice, but opposition to capital punishment by European suppliers adversely affected access, and secobarbitol has now taken its place.

The problem with secobarbitol is that it is expensive, costing about $3500 to $7000. “Insurance coverage is mixed,” Dr Blanke told Medscape Medical News. “Some patients have to pay the complete cost out of pocket.”

Use of secobarbitol is also complicated. About 100 capsules have to be opened and mixed with liquid, and many patients lack the dexterity to accomplish that. “As an alternative, a triple cocktail of morphine, chloral hydrate, and phenobarbital may be compounded,” he pointed out. “It is cheaper — about $400 — but it is acidic and, anecdotally, it takes longer for the patient to die.”

Only about two thirds of patients actually take the prescribed drugs once they fill the prescription. “It could be that just knowing that they have the option is enough,” said Dr Blanke. “It’s there if they need it, and it may relieve their fear of loss of control.”

The efficacy of the lethal medication is 99.4%, although, curiously, six patients have regained consciousness after taking it.

A full report on this conference is at
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/869023

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A terminally-ill 17-year-old has become the first minor to be
helped to die in Belgium since age restrictions on euthanasia requests
were removed two years ago, officials say.

The head of the federal euthanasia commission said the teenager was
“suffering unbearable physical pain”.

Belgium is the only country that allows minors of any age to choose
euthanasia.

They must have rational decision-making capacity and be in the final
stages of a terminal illness. The parents of the under-18 year olds
must also give their consent.

Euthanasia commission head Wim Distelmans said the teenager was “nearly
18”. He said doctors used “palliative sedation”, which involves bringing
patients into an induced coma, as part of the process,

“Fortunately there are very few children who are considered [for
euthanasia] but that does not mean we should refuse them the right to a
dignified death,” he told the Het Nieuwsblad newspaper.

Tags: , , , , ,

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (Reuters) – A California judge on Friday refused to suspend a new state law allowing physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, citing the need to protect them from pain, but he allowed a legal challenge to proceed. The mixed ruling portends a continued debate over the highly contested law in the first months of its implementation.

“The court won’t be deterred when there’s a matter of public interest this large,” Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia said on Friday (8.26.16).

A group of doctors in Riverside, east of Los Angeles, filed a lawsuit to overturn the so-called California End of Life Option, which was passed by the state legislature last year and went into effect in June.

Attorneys for the doctors requested a preliminary injunction to suspend the law while the lawsuit proceeds. But Ottolia denied the request, saying it would harm terminally ill patients.
“The injunction would subject them to additional pain,” Ottolia said in court.

Ottolia also ruled on a request by the state and other supporters of the End of Life Option to dismiss the lawsuit instead. They argued the doctors lack proper legal standing to bring their case.
“Plaintiffs have patients that fall under the act so the case is not hypothetical,” Ottolia said, in denying the request to put aside the lawsuit.

California was the fifth U.S. state to legalize medical aid in dying for terminally ill patients, terminology that advocates prefer over the phrase “physician-assisted suicide.”

At least 30 individuals are known to have obtained a prescription under California’s law since it took effect on June 9, according to Compassion & Choices, a group backing the law.
The doctors named as plaintiffs were joined by the American Academy of Medical Ethics, also known as the Christian Medical and Dental Society.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Final Exit paperback remains high on the Amazon book sales chart. But only from ERGO Bookstore can you get the book PLUS the new 2016 Addendum. $23 for the 3rd edition.
www.finalexit.org/ergo-store

If you want Final Exit ebook download for $17 that too contains the 2016 Addendum.

>If you only want the print Addendum, send $5 to ERGO 24829 Norris Lane Junction City, OR 97448 and get it in the regular mail.
Derek Humphry, author

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

25 yrs ago this month (Aug) ‘Final Exit’ guidebook topped nonfiction bestsellers lists in both NY Times and Publishers Wkly. And still selling in updated 3rd edition.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/euthanasia-pro-and-con/id1132910035?mt=2

Podcast by ” Euthanasia: Pro and Con ” on iTunes

1
Episode 4. Derek Humphry: author of Final Exit, the handbook Derek Humphry an American journalist, author
7/21/2016 Free View In iTunes
2
Ep.3. Margaret Somerville: Professor, McGill University Margaret Somerville is a Samuel Gale Professor
7/9/2016 Free View In iTunes
3
Episode 2. Sheila Duffy, Friends at the End Sheila Duffy is a retired journalist, is Convener of FATE, Scotland… 7/8/2016 Free View In iTunes

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/euthanasia-pro-and-con/id1132910035?mt=2

Podcast also on
https://soundcloud.com/496806650

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

There is a worthwhile PODCAST to listen to the controversy surrounding the right to choose to die when at life’s end (self-deliverance, assisted suicide, assisted dying — whichever name suits you) at
https://soundcloud.com/496806650

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

(Reuters Health) – Legalized euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are mainly used by patients with cancer, but remain rare, according to a new analysis of such programs.

In the last year alone, California has legalized physician-assisted suicide, Canada legalized both physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, and Colombia performed its first legal euthanasia, said John Urwin, a study author from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “In order to inform current debates, it’s imperative to understand current laws and practices.”

Definitions of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide vary between countries, Urwin and his colleagues write in JAMA.

Generally, they explain, euthanasia is when a doctor takes action to end a patient’s life. When patients take physician-prescribed pills to end their lives, it’s known as physician-assisted suicide.

The researchers assessed the legal status of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide by reviewing polling data and published surveys of the public and physicians, official state and country databases, interview studies with physicians and death certificate studies for the period 1947 to 2016.

They found no evidence for widespread abuse of these practices, according to their report.

In addition to Canada and Colombia, the practices are at least partially legal in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Physician-assisted suicide is also legal in the U.S. states of Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.

Overall, support for physician-assisted suicide Continue Reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

SWISS ATTITUDES TO DYING
Interest in choosing how and when to die has risen dramatically of late. More than 1,200 people underwent an assisted suicide in Switzerland last year, over a third more than in the previous year. In 2014, 742 people (320 men and 422 women) chose an assisted suicide, according to the Federal Statistical Office. In 2003 it was 187.

This is interesting because Switzerland legalized assisted suicide (doctor and non-doctor) as far back as l942. It indicates a serious change in modern attitudes to end-of-life situations.

Tags: , , , ,

Older Posts »