Doctors debate physician-assisted suicide
But the issues will be high on the agenda at the CMAas general council meeting later this month in Calgary, with a special session devoted entirely to end-of-life care. Euthanasia involves aknowingly and intentionallya performing an act a usually administering a lethal injection of barbiturates a with the sole intention of ending a life. With physician-assisted suicide, the doctor provides a patient with the knowledge or means, or both, required to commit suicide, including acounselling about lethal doses of drugs, prescribing such lethal doses or supplying the drugs,a according to the CMAas current policy, which was last updated in 2007. aEuthanasia and assisted suicide are opposed by almost every national medical association and prohibited by the law codes of almost all countries,a the policy reads. aA change in the legal status of these practices in Canada would represent a major shift in social policy and behavior.a The issue has taken on new immediacy with Quebecas move this summer to become the first province in the country to introduce a law that would protect from prosecution or jail doctors who offer the terminally ill medical assistance to die. In June, Quebecas Parti Quebecois government introduced Bill 52, an act respecting end-of-life care, which sets out the rules that would allow terminal palliative sedation as well as amedical aid in dying.a Under the bill, only a patient of legal age and capable of giving consent and who is suffering from an incurable illness and aconstant and unbearable physical or psychological paina would be permitted to seek a doctor-hastened death. Canadaas Criminal Code prohibits euthanasia and assisted suicide, stating that, ano person can consent to have death inflicted upon him.a The issue is now before the courts: The federal government is appealing a B.C. court ruling that last summer struck down Canadaas ban on doctor-assisted suicide, ruling it unconstitutional and granting a woman dying of Lou Gehrigas disease the right to seek a doctoras help in ending her life. Itas not a request Dr. John You has ever been faced with. aI personally am uncomfortable with the idea, but I know itas something that weall need to have a societal debate about,a said You, an associate professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., and a member of the Canadian Researchers at the End of Life Network. He said he worries the emotionally charged issue will overshadow the urgent need for better access to quality, end-of-life care for Canadians.
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Canadian Forces Medical Officers Recognized By College of Family Physicians
These medical officers represent the finest doctors in Canada, are testament to the high level of care our Canadian Armed Forces members receive at home and abroad and, on behalf of the Government of Canada, I wish to congratulate them. Captain Scott MacLean, 1 Field Ambulance, Edmonton, is the recipient of the 2012 Murray Stalker award. This award, named in honour of the late Dr. Murray Stalker, first College of Family Physicians of Canada President (1954-1955), recognizes and promotes scholarly activities of family medicine residents. It is awarded to an outstanding family medicine resident who is recognized as a potential future leader in the discipline. Captain MacLean and Captain Jason Lorette, 26 Canadian Forces Health Services Centre, Greenwood, are both the recipients of the Family Medicine Resident Leadership Awards. These awards recognize the leadership abilities of outstanding senior family medicine residents from each of the 17 Canadian family medicine residency programs. Captain Melissa Welsh, 24 Canadian Forces Health Services Centre, Trenton, is the 2012 recipient of the Bob Robertson Award. This award, dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Bob Robertson, former College of Family Physicians of Canada President (1980-1981), recognizes the individual who achieved the highest standing among family medicine residents in the organizations certification examination in family medicine. Captain Shawn Benninger is the 2012 recipient of the Award of Excellence. The Award of Excellence recognizes the College of Family Physicians of Canada member who, in the past 12-24 months, has made an outstanding contribution in a specific area pertaining to one or more of the following areas: patient care; community service; hospital or health care institutions; college activities (national or chapter); or teaching, research or other elements of the academic discipline of family medicine. Capt. Benninger is currently serving on board Her Majestys Canadian Ship Protecteur. We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of these medical officers. They will serve their nation and the Canadian Armed Forces well as they progress through their military medical careers, said Brig.-Gen.
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On Monday, as Canadaas doctors began a public debate over physician-assisted suicide, the Calgary MD said his experience caring for his wife a and many patients since a means he simply canat consider the thought of helping a suffering patient die. aIf care and well-being is what I train for, Iad like to focus on care and well-being,a Chary said, in an interview. aItas not even a suicide in my mind. Iam killing.a The polarizing issue took centre stage at the Canadian Medical Associationas annual general council meeting, which opened Monday in Calgary, as delegates heard from an expert panel on end-of-life-care. Canada needs better programs that allow patients to die comfortably at home and more palliative care training for young physicians, said panellist Dr. Eric Wasylenko, a Calgary family physician specializing in palliative care. Proper end-of-life care strives to help patients live as well as they can before they die, he said. aMy personal view is it is not within the role of the physician or the practice of medicine to actually deliberately cause someoneas death, even if theyave asked for it,a said Wasylenko, in an interview following the panel discussion. aThe role of physicians and medical care is to support people in their life until their natural death, not to kill them artificially or in advance of their natural death.a The debate has taken on growing urgency in Canada after Quebec introduced contentious right-to-die legislation this year. Earlier Monday, Canadaas health minister Rona Ambrose said the federal government isnat planning to reopen the debate on euthanasia. aThis is an issue that is very emotional for a lot of people a not just regular Canadians, but also physicians,a she told reporters. aParliament voted in 2010 to not change its position on this issue. At this time, we donat have any intention of changing our position.a As the Quebec parliamentary commission begins hearings next month on the issue, Canadian physicians should be prepared to face a growing public discussion around the issue, said CMA president Dr. Anna Reid.
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