July 6, 2017 5:04 pm

Nearly 550 assisted deaths in Ontario since law came into effect: coroner

Ontario's chief coroner says medically assisted deaths occurred most often in hospitals, followed by private homes.

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TORONTO – More than 500 Ontarians aged 27 to 101 have chosen medically assisted death since it became legal in Canada a little over one year ago, according to new statistics from Ontario’s chief coroner.

Of the 548 medically assisted deaths in Ontario, cancer was the most common underlying condition, found in 360 deaths, followed by and neurological and respiratory conditions, the coroner says.

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In only one case, the medication used to cause death was self-administered. In all other cases it was administered by doctors.

READ MORE: Ontario creating service to help people seeking medically assisted dying

Medically assisted deaths occurred most often in hospitals, followed by private homes, with the remainder in long-term care homes and retirement homes.

The coroner’s statistics cover June 17, 2016 — the day the federal assisted dying law came into force — to June 30, 2017.

Meanwhile, the government of Ontario is still working with physicians to develop a fee code — which sets what doctors are paid — for performing a medically assisted death.

READ MORE: Ontario privacy watchdog criticizes secrecy about facilities that provide assisted dying

According to the health minister’s office, doctors can bill the government for a counselling or a consultation, and in some cases a home visit and or an intravenous therapy.

Spokeswoman Laura Gallant said the government has yet to determine if the new fee code, once set, will be applied retroactively in medically assisted deaths that have already occurred.

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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