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Derek Humphry writes:

The report for 2005 by the Oregon Department of Human Services contains this description below of the part physicians actually play in the assisted suicide of dying patients. What strikes me as interesting — and troublesome — is the third paragraph which says that in the beginning of the law’s implementation doctors were at the bedside about half the time but now presence at the bedside of the patient happens in about a quarter of the cases.

It is my belief is that if a doctor is willing to prescribe the lethal overdose [in accordance with the Oregon law] then he or she should also be present at the end to ensure that it works properly. This is serious stuff. And why the huge drop in the number of doctors who are willing to be at the bedside? Complacency? Nervousness? What do you think?


Physician Characteristics

“The prescribing physicians of patients who used PAS during 2005 had been in practice a median of 26 years (range 3-55). Their medical specialties included: family medicine (62%), oncology (23%), internal medicine (10%), and other (5%).

Family medicine physicians represent 15% of all physicians in Oregon, oncologists 0.9%, and internists 16%.

“Seventy-four percent of the physicians who wrote prescriptions for lethal medication during 2005 wrote a single prescription. Of the 39 physicians who wrote prescriptions in 2005, 29 wrote one prescription, three wrote two prescriptions, three wrote three prescriptions, three wrote four prescriptions, and one wrote eight prescriptions.

“During the first three years after the legalization of PAS, physicians were present at the patient’s ingestion of lethal medication half or more of the time. During 2005, the prescribing physician was present 23% of the time.”

END QUOTE. Full report at http://egov.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/pas/docs/year8.pdf

-Derek Humphry, Oregon, USA

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