HealthDay News — About three-quarters of patients in California who receive End of Life Option Act (EOLOA) drugs ingest them and die, according to a research letter published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Huong Q. Nguyen, PhD, from Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena, and colleagues described the experience of their health system and provided the outcomes and characteristics of individuals who initiated the EOLOA process.

Overall, 379 patients initiated an inquiry from June 9, 2016, through June 30, 2017; of these, 176 were deemed eligible. The researchers found that 74% of patients who received the EOLOA drugs ingested them and died within a median of 9 days after the prescription was written.

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A total of 74% of the patients who initiated EOLOA had cancer and in the previous 12 months received care mainly from specialists. Fifty-five percent of patients had impairment in activities of daily living and were receiving palliative care or hospice at the time of their inquiry. Not wanting to suffer and no longer being able to participate in activities that made life enjoyable were the 2 most common reasons cited for pursuing EOLOA.

“Patients’ end-of-life concerns appear difficult to palliate, with the most common cited reasons for pursuing EOLOA being existential suffering, inability to enjoy life, and loss of autonomy,” the authors write.

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Nguyen HQ, Gelman EJ, Bush TA, et al. Characterizing Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s experience with the California End of Life Option Act in the first year of implementation [published online December 26, 2017]. JAMA Intern Med. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.7728