Bioethics Blogs

Death with Dignity in Washington State – 6th Annual Report

The Washington State Department of Health has just issued its sixth report on Death with Dignity.

In the six years since Washington’s Death with Dignity Act went into effect and since that time, 725 adults with a terminal illness have chosen to end their lives with a physician-prescribed lethal dose of medication.

There were 176 terminally ill patients in 2014 who received a prescription to help them end their lives. The prescriptions were written by 109 different physicians and were filled by 57 different pharmacists. Of the 176 people who received these prescriptions, 170 are known to have died. Death with Dignity participation rose less than 2 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year, although more than half of those who died last year were women — up from 48 percent in 2013.

Those who died after receiving the lethal medications were between the ages of 21 to 101. As in previous years, many patients choosing to receive the medication listed the loss of independence as the reason for participating.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.