CA End of Life Option Act 2018 Data Report

As an internist who has entered my 41st year in private practice, I have followed our state's experience with this act hoping like many of my colleagues that those accessing this option would only do so after much thought, council, and access to good palliative care.  

By statute, our state CDPH just reported our statewide experience for 2018 which included our cumulative experience since its inception in June 2016.  (This report can be accessed online at the following CDPH link.)

In 2018, of the 337 individuals who died from ingestion of aid-in-dying drugs, the rate was 12.6/10,000 deaths in CA.  88.5% of these received hospice and/or palliative care. 75.9% were 60-89 years of age. 88.4% were white and 80.1% had some college education.  The most common categories of terminal diagnosis were malignant neoplasm (68.8%), Neurologic diseases like ALS and Parkinson’s (13.1%), Cardio-vascular diseases (7.7%), and Respiratory diseases (5.3%).  

This year, the setting of death was reported.  92% (#310) died in a private home, 3.8% (#13) in an Assisted-Living, 2.4% (#8) in a Nursing Home, and 1.8% (6) in an in-patient Hospice Residence.  

Since the inception of the act, of those prescribed aid-in-dying medications, 72.8% (807) have died from ingesting medications.  The report for 2016 was only for ~ 6.5 months. Over all, the annual death rate appears similar for 2017 and 2018. 

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of being part of a debate at AMDA regarding the pros and cons of permitting euthanasia in nursing homes for patients with dementia, which is legal in Holland.  In that forum, it was clear that many Dutch people have embraced euthanasia (even in advanced dementia) with 4.3% dying by this means in 2017. In Canada, which legalized euthanasia in 2016, 1% of deaths in 2017 were by euthanasia.  In 2018 in our state the rate was 0.126%.  

Even though I work predominantly in the nursing home setting, we are now seeing this option in that setting and will likely see more requests in the coming years.  If you work in the CCRC setting (SNF, ALUs, Private residences), you should be sure your system has a policy which accommodates this option.

I hope that the medical community in California continues to improve palliative care and to address suffering with great expertise so that this option remains a rare choice.

Share this post:

Comments on "CA End of Life Option Act 2018 Data Report"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment