DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado officials say 56 residents of the state who were terminally ill have died after receiving an “aid-in-dying” prescription from their doctors.
The statistic was revealed as part of the first annual report on legal medically assisted suicide by state health officials. State lawmakers passed the Colorado End-of-Life Options Act in November 2016.
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment says a total of 69 Coloradans who were terminally ill received medication to voluntarily end their lives in 2017. It is unclear from the report whether the 56 patients from that group, who submitted death certificates, died of natural causes, died as a result of taking the prescribed medication or died in some other way.
Officials say all the data they collect as part of the state law is confidential and they are required to not reveal the names of anyone who gets the prescription or any of the medical professionals who prescribe it.
The data shows, however, that 64 of the Coloradans who received the prescription had cancer. Another 10 percent had heart disease, 10 percent had Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and nine percent had respiratory diseases including COPD.
Three of the 56 were between 33 and 54 years old. Nine were between 55 and 64 and the rest were 65 or older.
Thirty five of those who died were residents of the Denver metro area. The rest were from other parts of the state.
Read the state’s complete report Colorado End-Of-Life Options Act, Year One 2017 Data Summary.