Are family physicians ready for their patients who request physician-assisted death (PAD)?
There are patients who are suffering and who wish to die at home. They are likely to seek medical assistance from those physicians they know and trust, their family doctor. They are waiting for the right to do this, supposedly after June 6, when legislation is to become effective, if that deadline is met.
I ask again, are we ready?
The recent Dialogue from The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) introduces a policy “Interim Guidance on Physician-Assisted Death” which helps somewhat, but was published before the federal government introduced its legislation, which is not exactly what was expected. Nevertheless, I encourage you to read it for general guidance on this sensitive topic.
Questions still remain for family physicians, including but not limited to the following:
Who should we refer patients to for second opinions?
Who should we refer eligible patients to for the procedure if we are not willing to provide it ourselves?
What is the protocol for physician-assisted death and how do we learn more about it?
Somehow we need to acquire more information, more education, and more knowledge of local resources. The Department of Family Medicine is willing to be a source of information and Robert Sibbald, Ethicist at LHSC, has offered his assistance. Please contact me if you have knowledge in this area, are aware of resources, or just have questions. As always, I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.