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We are pleased to share with you the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) newly published 2022 Data Report on the use of the state’s End of Life Option Act (ELOA).  The report reflects several key changes that went into effect on January 1, 2022 (via Senate Bill 380) that made the law more patient-friendly in allowing physicians to prescribe medical aid in dying (MAiD) for their terminally ill patients who are eligible under the law. 

One critical provision that went into effect shortened the waiting period from 15 to 2 days (48 hours) between the two oral requests required of the patient to their physician for a MAiD prescription. EOLCCA strongly supported this modification as many terminally-ill individuals who wished to use MAiD endured unnecessary suffering that the law (originally passed in 2016) was specifically intended to alleviate. In this new report, we are gratified to learn that:

“Out of the 1,204 individuals who started the end-of-life option process in 2022 and received a prescription during 2022, 947 individuals, or 78.7 percent, waited less than 15 days between the two verbal requests.”  

Almost 50 percent increase

Equally important to EOLCCA is the fact that the number of people who obtained a MAiD prescription increased by almost 50% compared to 2021. Universal knowledge that California has this law is a critical missing element that persists as a major roadblock for those who might request medical aid in dying. 

Too many people who might qualify remain woefully uninformed about the possibility of MAiD at key health care decision points in their end-stage terminal illnesses.

One of EOLCCA’s primary objectives is to continue to reverse that trend through comprehensive targeted education programs about the ELOA to hospices, medical practices, diverse local community organizations, houses of worship, and retirement communities. This year alone, our Speakers Bureau has already provided 42 educational presentations around the state. Please visit our Speakers Bureau webpage to learn more about this program.

volunteer at bedside
More good data

Several other data points of the report include: 

  • The vast majority (over 95%) of those who used MAiD in 2022 were receiving hospice and/or palliative care.
  • Those who utilized MAiD were numerically more white and had completed more education than the state’s diverse population. This is an area of extreme importance to EOLCCA as we work to expand our outreach and education efforts. 
  • About one-third of the people who receive a prescription never use it. 

To this last topic, anecdotal evidence we’ve accumulated through our counseling of scores of patients, indicates to us that having the prescription in hand has its own palliative effect, giving a measure of comfort and control to the patient. As a result, their anxiety goes down, their pain level goes down, and they are more able to relax into their dying process and never feel the need to take the medication. What a wonderful gift for people to have. 

I encourage you to read the report for yourself. It discusses in much more detail what peoples’ diagnoses were, their demographics and many other interesting factors. The report can be accessed here.

The report also showed that 84.5 percent of those who utilized MAiD in 2022 informed their family of their decision. In keeping with August designated as National Make A Will month, if you need assistance in preparing your own Advance Care plans, to better inform yourself or facilitate end-of-life discussions with your loved ones, please contact us.

In conclusion, while the results of this report show some encouraging advances, there is still much more work to be done. If you wish to inform, educate and help more terminally ill people access a peaceful death on their terms, please learn morevolunteer, or consider supporting our work by making a donation here

End of life choices California

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