Compassion & Choices, a patient advocacy group, is heartened by the Vermont Department of Health’s first report on utilization of the 2013 Patient Choice at the End of Life Act since the law’s implementation four years ago.
The report shows that the law is working as intended. In fact, since the law took effect, 52 mentally capable, terminally ill adults the option requested and received a doctor’s prescription for medication they could ingest if their suffering became unbearable and die peacefully in their sleep. Twenty-nine Vermonters decided to self-ingest the aid-in-dying medication.
The report also shows that Vermont’s requirements for the information collected, in accordance with law, are respectful of patient privacy, and demonstrates the safe and successful implementation of the law.
“What is truly heartening about this report is it shows that Vermont residents are engaging in conversations about their end-of-life care options with their doctors, and the state is respecting the privacy and confidentiality of both patients and doctors by tracking the right amount of information to make sure the law is accessible to those who need it,” said Kat West, National Director of Policy and Programs for Compassion & Choices. “We know from experience with medical aid in dying in five other states that these laws significantly improve end-of-life care for most terminally ill adults, by encouraging these important conversations and increasing the utilization of hospice and palliative care.”
The Vermont Department of Health report proves that medical aid-in-dying laws works as intended. Compassion & Choices also applauds that “100% of the death certificates listed the appropriate cause (the underlying disease) and manner of death (natural),” according to the report. Compassion & Choices will continue efforts to protect the law from opponents who would seek to overturn or weaken the law.
“The ability of terminally ill Vermonters to access the Patient Choice at the End of Life Act is our priority, and Vermont is on the right track,” said West. “We are confident that more doctors will practice medical aid in dying as more Vermonters learn about the law and ask their physicians to help them access it.”