Fifty-one patients in Washington died after taking lethal medication prescribed by physicians under the first full year of the state’s aid-in-dying law, according to a state health department report released in March.
Sixty-eight physicians wrote life-ending prescriptions for 87 patients, 51 of whom took the medication and died. As of Feb. 9, 15 died of their illnesses before taking the lethal medication, and another 15 patients were still alive. For the remaining six deaths, it is unclear whether the patients ingested the medication prescribed under the law, the report said.
The physician-assisted suicide total represents a 42% rise from the 36 doctor-aided deaths in 2009, though the law didn’t take effect until March of that year. In Oregon, the only other state with a law authorizing physician-assisted suicide, 65 patients died last year after taking life-ending medication prescribed by their doctors, according to a state report released in January. Oregon has allowed physician-assisted suicide since 1998.
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