MAID alterations could still be a year away, panel says
A “reasonably foreseeable” death is one of the restrictions for medical assistance in dying that has experts scratching their heads, and it could be another year before we know if it will be changed, an audience was told at a Friends of Medicare event.
It is not a legal definition, said Dr. Dionne Walsh, medical lead for MAID AHS south zone.
“It’s an extraordinarily vague term,” said Dr. David Amies of Dying with Dignity Canada.
When it comes to advance directives for MAID, Amies thinks this will be accepted in the future with considerable change in the next five years.
An inquiry is to submit a report to the federal government by 2018, said Amies. The report will not need to be made public though.
“I find that a little bit sneaky,” said Amies.
Since Feb. 6, 2016, when court orders made medically-assisted death possible, there have been 85 deaths in Alberta, of which 10 were is the south zone. Six deaths occurred before June 17, 2016, when federal legislation removed the need to attain a court order, according to AHS data.
A total of 48 did not met the federal criteria for MAID and these include a mental health diagnosis, loss of capacity or competency and death not being reasonably foreseeable.
The most cited health conditions for someone receiving MAID has been cancer, multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to AHS data. The average age of people receiving MAID has been 65 in the south zone, 73 in Calgary, 88 in central zone, 67 in Edmonton and 63 in the north zone.
MAID is defined as “the administering by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner of a substance to a person, at their request, that causes their death,” according to an AHS document. It includes medical or nurse practitioners prescribing or providing a substance, at the request of a person, so they may self-administer and in so doing cause their own death.
The patient’s eligibility, under federal government legislation, includes being at least 18 years old with full decisionmaking capacity, including right before the administration of the substance. The illness must be incurable and irreversible with enduring physical or psychological suffering, the AHS document says. Natural death must be reasonably foreseeable. The request must be voluntary with informed consent, and the person must be eligible for publicly funded health-care services in Canada.
While Covenant Health has been noted for not allowing MAID in its facilities, there have been three other nonfaith based facilities that have taken the same stand, said Nancy Campbell, MAID co-ordinator AHS south zone. The conversation is ongoing in this regard and some will now allow the assessments of patients for MAID to take place in the facility.
After MAID the body is sent to the medical examiner in Calgary, who supplies the death certificate, before being returned to loved ones. The medical examiner looks at all the paperwork to ensure the correct procedure has been followed, said Campbell.
You can also call Health Link 811 for more information.
A panel answers questions about Medical Assistance In Dying at a Friends of Medicare event on Wednesday. From left: Dr. David Amies, Dying with Dignity Canada; Nancy Campbell, MAID co-ordinator AHS south zone; Colin Zieber, executive director seniors health and operational lead MAID AHS south zone; and Dr. Dionne Walsh, medical lead for MAID AHS south zone.