Quebec MDs to get guidelines for legalized assisted death
Quebec MDs to get guidelines for legalized assisted death

Quebec MDs to get guidelines for legalized assisted death, Report

Quebec’s right-to-die legislation comes into effect at the end of 2015; according to a report doctors will soon be given standardized euthanasia kits.

The National Post reports the kits will include drugs that will help calm nerves and stop breathing, and step-by-step instructions to follow before, during and after.

The guidelines were put together through collaboration between Quebec’s College of Physicians, the Order of Pharmacists of Quebec and the Order of Nurses of Quebec.

“It will be prescribed by the physician within a scope of drugs, and it will be a kit that will be prepared for each patient on an individual basis,” explained Dr. Yves Robert, secretary of the Quebec College of Physicians. “We’re going to meet psychiatrists, family physicians, the long-term care facilities and teams, the social workers, the nurses.”

Quebec is the first province in Canada to legalize the right to die, and it could establish a framework for other provinces, said healthcare lawyer Jean-Pierre Menard.

“This kind of regulation can be applied in other provinces, because when we worked to establish that frame, we tried to do it on the competence of the health area so those regulations can be applied anywhere in Canada,” he said.

To prevent abuse, Bill 52 only allows doctors to administer the lethal injection if a person is mentally fit, with an incurable illness, in unbearable physical and/or psychological pain and in an advanced state of irreversible decline.

Bioethicist Dr. David Roy thinks the guidelines are still too vague.

“One of the areas where medical judgment is fragile is on the prediction of death. There’s a lot of uncertainty about who is going to die when,” he said.

Even though patients can decide up until the last minute whether to go through with the process, Roy believes the first few months will pose some legal questions.

“What happens if the patient lapses into a state of unconsciousness and is no longer able to withdraw?” he posited.

Doctors also have a right to refuse to administer the drugs for moral or ethical reasons.
“According to the Quebec law, he must request to the health institution responsible for that patient and the authorities for that institution will have to find another doctor,” said Menard.

A detailed set of guidelines will be made available for healthcare professionals online in the coming weeks.

As of Dec. 10, doctors will be able to administer euthanasia kits.


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