On the website of the New England Journal of Medicine, there is a “special article” entitled “Implementing a Death with Dignity Program at a Comnprehensive Cancer Center”. It describes a real program and a real experience at “Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the site of care for the Fred Hutchinson–University of Washington Cancer Consortium, a comprehensive cancer center in Seattle…” We have only read the free preview, but even that is shocking.
First of all, would you really want to go to a cancer center that has “a Death with Dignity Program”? Do you want death by secobarbital poisoning to be offered as one of your options when you hear that you are dying?
Second, the free preview states that 11 of the 40 patients who got the lethal dose lived longer than six months. That’s more than 25%. That is simply astounding and proof that there is no such thing as accuracy in prognosticating about the time a person has to live. No one knows, so no one should commit suicide based on a doctor’s prognosis.
Here’s the link: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1213398.