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March 2021

Euthanasia: What happens if the drugs don’t work?

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Radio NZ News 30 March 2021
Family First Comment: This is the danger of putting politicians in charge of a medical issue….
Palliative care professor Rod MacLeod said ending a life was not always a simple matter. “I think the public has this idea that assisted dying is quite clear cut – you take the drugs and you’re dead. But death doesn’t necessarily follow within minutes or even hours, it can take a lot longer and well documented cases of stuff not working.”

What happens if a patient doesn’t die during a euthanasia attempt? That’s one of a number of ethical and legal questions being asked by palliative care experts who say we are woefully unprepared to introduce assisted dying.

Senior nursing leaders are also concerned New Zealand won’t be ready when the law takes effect on 7 November.

The nurses union said its request for legal advice had been ignored by the Ministry of Health and nurses fear they could face disciplinary action and be struck off if they go too far discussing euthanasia with a patient.

Palliative care professor Rod MacLeod said ending a life was not always a simple matter.

“I think the public has this idea that assisted dying is quite clear cut – you take the drugs and you’re dead,” MacLeod said.

“But death doesn’t necessarily follow within minutes or even hours, it can take a lot longer and well documented cases of stuff not working.”

It was not yet known which drugs would be used for euthanasia in New Zealand and under the law it would be an offence punishable by a fine of up to $20,000 to reveal the method by which the drugs were administered to the patient.

“You assume that it’s the same as the United States [which] uses for lethal injections for the death penalty,” MacLeod said.

“We know that doesn’t always work. It’s not always that comfortable. It’s not like flicking a switch.”
READ MORE: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/in-depth/439441/euthanasia-what-happens-if-the-drugs-don-t-work
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Fears euthanasia training will just be online course

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Radio NZ News 29 March 2021
Family First Comment: “Palliative care specialists fear health practitioners with as little as six hours online training could end up providing euthanasia for patients who would have wanted to live if they had proper care and pain relief. And a new Ministry of Health survey reveals fewer than a third of health practitioners are prepared to participate in the assisted dying regime.”
Euthanasia. Not needed. Not safe. Not supported.

Palliative care specialists fear health practitioners with as little as six hours online training could end up providing euthanasia for patients who would have wanted to live if they had proper care and pain relief.

Their concerns come as a new Ministry of Health survey reveals fewer than a third of health practitioners are prepared to participate in the assisted dying regime.

Palliative care specialists say that might mean euthanasia is unavailable in some areas and a small band of itinerant doctors with no connection to their patients may do the bulk of the cases.

Palliative Care professor Rod MacLeod said nearly every week that he spent working in hospice care he was approached by someone who wanted to end their life – but during his 32-year career all but one of those people changed their minds.

“I’ve had lots and lots of people ask me for assisted dying. But with palliative care provided those requests melt away.”

He said that meant that under the euthanasia regime people who would have changed their minds could be put to death.

Palliative care specialists say most people skilled in end of life care don’t want to be involved in euthanasia.

But a Ministry of Health survey of nearly 2000 health practitioners shows that, while almost half supported assisted dying in principle, fewer than 30 percent were “possibly or definitely” willing to provide the service.
READ MORE: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/439361/fears-euthanasia-training-will-just-be-online-course

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Med students become more opposed to euthanasia while at uni

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Stuff co.nz 15 March 2021
Family First Comment: No surprises in this trend…
Support for euthanasia fell over each year of medical training: 64% in support in second year plummeting to 39% in fifth year.
“Ending a life was “contrary” to what med students were trying to become… Their whole orientation is to try and make things better, and ending a person’s life doesn’t feel that way.”
Exactly.

Medical students become more opposed to euthanasia as they progress through medical school, a new study has found.

Almost 65 per cent of second year medical students at Otago University supported euthanasia or assisted dying, compared with 39 per cent in fifth year, the researchers found.

Support for the practice fell over each year of training: 64.8 per cent in support in second year, 62.6 per cent in third year, 51.5 per cent in fourth year and 39.1 per cent in fifth year.

“We suggest that this difference is most likely due to their time in medical education,” concluded Luke Nie​ and Simon Walker​, along with two other Otago researchers.

First and second year students see few patients and their views mirrored the results of the End of Life Choice referendum held last November – 65 per cent in favour of legalisation, 34 per cent opposed.

By fifth year, however, med students are seeing lots of patients and are “confronted… by the complexities” that can come up in end-of-life situations, he said.

Otago med students are taught palliative medicine and end-of-life care as a “vertical module” throughout most of their education. They also get bioethics courses, although those are mostly identifying issues and enabling students to think for themselves, Walker said. He is a bioethicist and teaches some of these neutral classes.

Professors, doctors and nurses with strong views on euthanasia also probably made impressions on the students, he said.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/science/124506016/med-students-become-more-opposed-to-euthanasia-while-at-uni

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