Colorado’s Official 1st Annual Report on End-of-Life Options Act Show It’s Working Well
Detailed Data Confirms Medical Aid-in-Dying Law Is Working as Voters Intended
Compassion & Choices lauds Colorado’s first report detailing usage of the End-of-Life Options Act during its first year of implementation.
Colorado is one of six states, along with the District of Columbia, where medical aid in dying is authorized as an option for mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live to end unbearable suffering for a peaceful death. The other five states are California, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
The official report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows the Colorado law is working well, as voters
intended when they passed it by a 30-point margin (65% vs. 35%) in November 2016.
“Colorado’s report proves that the law is working well and terminally ill Coloradans were given great peace of mind and comfort in knowing that they had this option to peacefully end intolerable suffering,” said Kat West, national director of policy and programs for Compassion & Choices. “We are encouraged to see that the state’s year of data supports our conclusions in the report we released in December to coincide with the first anniversary of the law taking effect. We continue to work to ensure that every terminally ill Coloradan has equal access to all end-of-life care options, including hospice, pain control, palliative care and medical aid in dying.”
The report by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Center for Health and Environmental Data shows:
- 69 terminally ill adults with six months or fewer to live utilized the option under the law to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they could decide to take to die peacefully in their sleep if their end-of-life suffering became unbearable.
- 56 of the 69 people who qualified for the medication, either took it, died from their terminal disease or some other cause, according to their death certificates.
- 52 of the 56 people who died (93%) were enrolled in hospice care.
- 37 Colorado physicians wrote prescriptions for aid-in-dying medication.
- 19 Colorado pharmacists dispensed aid-in-dying medication.
“The data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment report assures me that there are no problems with the Colorado End-of-Life Options Act as written,” said Dr. Cory Carroll, a family physician in Fort Collins, who has participated in the law.
The report also included several tables of detailed statistics including:
- Underlying terminal illnesses/conditions among patients prescribed aid-in-dying medication.
- Categories of medications dispensed to patients prescribed aid-in-dying medication.
- Summary of patients who died following prescription of aid-in-dying medication, including by sex, age group, race/ethnicity, marital status, education, county of residence, place of death and hospice enrollment status.
Colorado residents and medical providers can find more information about medical aid-in-dying, including videos, forms and the Find Care Tool which identifies hospitals, clinics and hospices which have adopted policies supportive of patients who may choose medical aid in dying as one of their end-of-life care options at CompassionAndChoices.org/Colorado.