Colorado Medical Aid in Dying

02/06/19 at 08:52 AM

On 2/1/19, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment released the Colorado End-of-Life Options Act, Year 2: 2018 Data Summary report. This report updates the 2017 information previously reported and adds current information about calendar year 2018. Here's a quick table of results:

CO 2017 Report (original; year 1) CO 2017 Data (updated in 2018 report) CO 2018 Report (original; year 2) OR 2017 Report (year 20)
Patients receiving aid-in-dying prescriptions 69 72 125 218
Patients to whom medication was dispensed 50 56 86 NA
Patients who died from ingesting prescription NA NA NA 143
Patients for whom CDPHE received death certificates 56 70 104 NA
Number of physicians writing prescriptions 37 NA 66 92
Number of pharmacists filling prescriptions 19 NA 23 NA


Two observations are particularly striking to me in this second annual report:

  1. While we (i.e., Coloradans) know how many medical aid-in-dying prescriptions were written and we know how many people for whom these prescriptions were written died - we don't know how many people died because they took their prescription. CDPHE reports the number of death certificates received, but currently there is no information collected or reported regarding if the cause of death was related to taking a lethal prescription.
  2. It took 20 years for Oregon to reach 218 medical aid-in-dying prescriptions written in one year (OR report). Colorado reached more than half that number (125) in only two years.

I have the pleasure of working with an informal group whose goals including collecting consistent information about medical aid in dying (MAID) in states where it has been legalized. As one member states, "MAID is a high-risk but low-frequency event, and like all such events, we must have adequate and transparent data collection and reporting to ensure patient safety and medical best practices."

Note this informal group is only focusing on consistent data collection - not taking an ethical position on MAID. In fact, group members include both proponents and opponents of MAID - but we all agree on the importance of more data collection than Colorado currently collects.

As you can imagine, the media is begining to cover this newly released report. Here's a link to one such report:

  1. Kim Mooney on NBC 9 News

I suspect this blog post will be updated over time.

Back to News