Assisted suicide patients 'could have been treated for depression'

Assisted suicide laws may not provide adequate protection to people with depression, a study of terminally ill patients in the US state of Oregon suggests.

Researchers carried out psychiatric assessments on 47 patients who had requested aid in dying. Among patients who went on to receive a prescription for a lethal drug, 17 per cent met criteria for depression.

Doctors can assist patients’ death, but must refer patients who may have a mental disorder which might affect their judgement, such as depression, to a psychiatrist.

The researchers suggest that the practice of legalised aid in dying may allow potentially ineligible patients to receive a prescription for a lethal drug because some patients’ depression is missed or overlooked.

tom.moberly@haymarket.com

BMJ Online First

Comment below and tell us what you think

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Under 40s to be offered alternative to AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Under 40s to be offered alternative to AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Patients aged 30-39 will be offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19...

GPs per patient down 10% in just five years, NHS data reveal

GPs per patient down 10% in just five years, NHS data reveal

The number of fully-qualified, full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs per patient in England...

Supportive model must replace harmful CQC inspections, BMA chair warns

Supportive model must replace harmful CQC inspections, BMA chair warns

CQC inspections that ‘divert time away from patient care’ and ‘instil fear’ among...

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

A 'tsunami' of work is drowning general practice: GPs speak out about a profession at its limit

A 'tsunami' of work is drowning general practice: GPs speak out about a profession at its limit

Rocketing workloads created by huge backlogs of cases and continuing COVID-19 disruption...

Slight increase in GP workforce during past year, but number of partners continues to fall

Slight increase in GP workforce during past year, but number of partners continues to fall

The GP workforce grew by 0.4% in the year to March 2021, but the number of GP partners...