I won’t intentionally help my patients to end their lives

The Age 9 October 2017
Family First Comment: A great article – from a medical professional (not an ACT MP!) who knows the truth
“A request to die is uncommon, and is often driven by poorly controlled pain or nausea, as well as fear, loss of function and hopelessness. Usually when pain and other symptoms are under control, good nursing care is on hand, and psychological support has been provided, patients no longer want their death to be hastened. For family members watching a loved one die, the experience can be agonising. However, with appropriate involvement of palliative care, the preparation and education of family members about the normal processes of dying (such as irregular breathing and fluctuating consciousness), and with the administration of pain relief, there is minimal physical suffering.

Most patients with incurable cancer battle to the end. They exhaust all evidence-based active treatment options and clinical trials before being told that supportive care measures are now best.

A request to die is uncommon, and is often driven by poorly controlled pain or nausea, as well as fear, loss of function and hopelessness. Usually when pain and other symptoms are under control, good nursing care is on hand, and psychological support has been provided, patients no longer want their death to be hastened.

For family members watching a loved one die, the experience can be agonising. However, with appropriate involvement of palliative care, the preparation and education of family members about the normal processes of dying (such as irregular breathing and fluctuating consciousness), and with the administration of pain relief, there is minimal physical suffering.

When a patient seeks assisted dying, it is often when they are first told they have a limited life expectancy and before they are truly unwell. They are so distressed by such difficult news that they anticipate what is to come and can be consumed with fear and an urge to regain control. They may respond by seeking assisted dying at a time of their choosing. In overseas jurisdictions where this is legal around 80 per cent of those who access it have cancer.

Under the assisted suicide model proposed for Victoria, no psychiatric assessment or specialist palliative care assessment of intending patients are required. There is no need to involve the patient’s treating doctors as two new doctors with no mandated end-of-life expertise assess and authorise lethal medicine without any follow-up care.

Informing family members is optional. The entire process can be completed and drugs taken within 10 days – little time for change of mind about an irreversible act. Everyone is presumed to have decision-making capacity unless they obviously don’t. Determination of a patient’s life expectancy involves an educated guess by doctors and the confidence intervals can be wide.
READ MORE: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/i-wont-intentionally-help-my-patients-to-end-their-lives-20171009-gywz7j.html?platform=hootsuite
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