Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cornering the market on physician-assisted suicide

March 10, 2010, 7:00AM

The Oregonian
By Kenneth R. Stevens Jr.

Editor's Note: Kenneth R. Stevens, Jr., M.D. is a Portland physician and vice president of Physicians for Compassionate Care Educational Foundation.

What have we learned from 12 years of physician-assisted suicide in Oregon? What does it mean and matter?

In 2009, none of the 59 people who died from assisted suicide had a psychiatric evaluation, and during the last three years only 1 percent (two of 168) of patients dying from assisted suicide had a psychiatric evaluation. Why should this matter?

Oregon Health Department officials expressed concern in 2009 regarding the "worrisome trend" over the years in the decline in requests for formal psychiatric evaluation. They stated: "The decline in formal evaluation raises concerns that depression remains undiagnosed in some patients who request and receive a prescription under the DWDA" (the Death with Dignity Act). OHSU researchers reported in 2008 that 25 percent of patients requesting assisted suicide are depressed. Why, in spite of these concerns and information, are only 1 percent of patients being referred for psychiatric evaluation? Perhaps it's because of the Compassion & Choices organization. Full story.

Related link:
Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation http://www.pccef.org/

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