More People Asking Doctors for Medicine to End Their Lives, But - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

More People Asking Doctors for Medicine to End Their Lives, But Not Here

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New numbers from the State Department of Health show more people are asking their physicians for a lethal dose of medication to end their lives. New numbers from the State Department of Health show more people are asking their physicians for a lethal dose of medication to end their lives.
YAKIMA, WA - New numbers from the State Department of Health show more people are asking their physicians for a lethal dose of medication to end their lives.

However, talking to local hospitals and hospice centers the rise isn't happening here. In fact, 95 percent of the patients participating in the Death with Dignity Act are on the Western Side of the Cascades.

The state authorized the act in 2009, allowing terminally ill patients to ask their doctors for medicine to end their lives.

We found that many local hospitals and hospice centers do not practice the policy.

Heartlinks Hospice in the Lower Valley said they've only had a handful of patients wanting to end their lives, but the staff has been able to find them other options.

"A lot of it is about personal cleanliness," said Ron Jetter, the Executive Director of Heartlinks Hospice. "They feel so desperate when they have limited mobility, and they can't even keep themselves physically clean, and they're embarrassed to have family members help them."

Heartlinks Hospice said if someone did want to end their life, then the hospice center would have to refer them to the State Department of Health to do that.

About 175 people in the state were given lethal doses of medicine in 2013, which is a 43 percent increase from 2012.
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