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The 2019 Data Report on the End of Life Option Act (EoLOA), recently released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), offers a window into how the law was utilized in 2019, as well as cumulatively over the three and a half years since the law came into effect.

From June 9, 2016, to December 31, 2019, a total of 1,985 people have received aid-in-dying prescriptions under the EoLOA, and 1,283 individuals, or 65 percent, have died from ingesting the medications.

In the period from January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2019, the data indicates:

  • 736 individuals started the end-of-life option process, as set forth in the Act, by making two verbal requests to their physicians at least 15 days apart.
  • 618 of those individuals received EoLOA prescriptions — an increase over the 452 individuals who received prescriptions in 2018.
  • A total of 246 physicians were involved in prescribing aid-in-dying drugs in 2019, up from the 180 who wrote prescriptions in 2018.
  • 405 individuals died following their ingestion of the prescribed aid-in-dying drug(s), which includes 27 individuals who received prescriptions prior to 2019. Ninety died from the underlying illness or other causes.
  • 87 percent of the decedents were white, 55 percent were male, and 74 percent had at least some level of college education.
  • Of the 405 individuals, 89 percent were 60 years of age or older, 90 percent had health insurance and 85 percent were receiving hospice and/or palliative care.

The most commonly prescribed drug category in 2019 was a combination of a cardiotonic, opioid, and sedative at 79 percent. This represents a shift from 2018, when sedatives were prescribed 37 percent of the time and the combination of cardiotonic, opioid, and sedative was prescribed 35 percent of the time.

CDPH is required to provide annual reports, including information on the number of prescriptions written and the number of known individuals who died using aid-in-dying drugs as part of the End of Life Option Act legislation. The data is collected from the forms that participating patients and providers are required to complete and submit to the state. The information is aggregated by CDPH to protect the privacy of the participants.
 
The state does not report on all of the data elements it currently collects on EoLOA, which has been an area of concern for CCCC and other stakeholders. We believe that the state has a duty to be as transparent as possible in sharing the EoLOA data, and we have requested that CDPH either report on all of the data collected on the forms or release the de-identified data to independent researchers to analyze. The data helps the state, researchers, and others to evaluate and monitor trends in the use of the law.

More Information
For general information on the EoLOA law, visit CCCC’s EoLOA page here.

To view and download the EoLOA Data Reports from 2016-2019, and access provider and patient reporting forms, visit CDPH’s EoLOA page here.

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