A reader writes:
As of January 7, 2011, 96 prescriptions for lethal medications had been written under the provisions of the DWDA during 2010, compared to 95 during 2009 (Figure 1). Of the 96 patients for whom prescriptions were written during 2010, 59 died from ingesting the medications. In addition, six patients with prescriptions written during previous years ingested the medications and died during 2010 for a total of 65 known 2010 DWDA deaths at the time of this report. This corresponds to 20.9 DWDA deaths per 10,000 total deaths.
The linked report has a number of other useful findings. By the way, I personally knew one of the 100 or so Oregonians who will be in the 2011 report.
He was an 83-year-old man dying of lung cancer. His case was totally typical. As his health declined, he became more and more distraught at the idea of the manner of his death. He went to his family doctor to receive the lethal prescription to give himself the option. I was one of two people who signed a state form to verify that it was his decision and that he was not under emotional duress.
Like a little less than half the Oregonians who receive the medication, he didn't use it. He died July of natural causes, at home with his wife.