By Terri Hallenbeck
July 14, 2013
The first patient to use a lethal prescription that Dr. Nicholas Gideonse wrote was a man suffering from prostate cancer. He was grumpy and cantankerous. His legs were swollen. He was immobile and miserable, Gideonse said.
Once he had the medication in hand, Gideonse said, “He lit up.” The man later gathered his family and took the medication. Just the knowledge that he had regained his autonomy “elevated his mood,” the doctor said.
Gideonse, a family practitioner in Oregon, said he has written two to three dozen prescriptions since then for terminally ill patients who were seeking to hasten their deaths.
From 1997, when Oregon’s law took effect, through 2012, 673 terminally ill patients have used this method to end their lives, according to state statistics. In Washington, where a similar law took effect in 2009, 353 patients have ended their lives with a lethal dose prescribed by a doctor. More