Letter: Decisions about medically assisted death should be left up to patient

Editor: Regarding recent news stories about hospice care and medically assisted death, I am a family physician who worked for several years in palliative and hospice care in Fraser Health.

While good hospice care can be very beneficial, and I would like to see it offered to everyone with a terminal illness, not all suffering can be alleviated with medication or other forms of treatment.

My belief is that the choice of a medically assisted death should be up to the individual patient, although proper screening and advice is of course necessary.

That said, I sympathize greatly with hospice staff who have devoted their careers to providing care that “neither hastens nor postpones death,” and who may or may not have their own religious beliefs that conflict with providing euthanasia, as they are forced up against changing public mores, laws, and institutional pressures.

In some ways this is not unlike termination of a pregnancy, a legal service that not very practitioner wishes to provide, but still triggers an obligation to refer the patient elsewhere.

However, there is an important difference here, in that the act of transferring a patient from hospice to another institution may fly in the face of the principles of hospice care by worsening the very symptoms that they have been admitted to ease, such as severe pain.

Another mandate of hospice is to provide a home-like environment where patients may spend their final days, and being transferred adds the stress and, often, disorientation, of moving to a strange locale.

Plus, as anyone involved in a health care profession knows, patient transfers do not always go smoothly, and there may be timing and jurisdictional issues that can lead to uncertainty and delays in medication administration. All of these factors much be considered as well.

In the end, none of us knows the suffering of the person who is near death, and the needs of the patient must come first.

It is up to us as professionals to respect the wishes of vulnerable people at the end of their lives.

Avis Picton,

Langley

Just Posted

Teen’s outlook positive, despite living with ‘Stone Man Syndrome’

Alexandra Hoodikoff has a conditon that affects one in two million people

Golden girl Bailey Herbert leads Olympians at Western Canadian championship meet

Langley Olympians Swim Club places fifth out of 71 teams during prestigious meet in Victoria

VIDEO: Jewelry designer casts new soul in old gold

In response to industry changes, Karyn Chopik is recycling old jewelry into modern art

Langley’s Wyatt twins ready to earn their stripes as Tigers

RE Mountain Grade 12 students will also study physics at University of Memphis

LEPS, Langley Township mark Earth Month with eco-friendly events

Arbour Day, Clean-Up Day happening last two weekends in April

Lt.-Gov. Guichon believes she made the right decision

Outgoing Lt.-Gov Judith Guichon said her most memorable moments weren’t surrounding the election

VIDEO: Smokers talk pot rules at annual 4-20 event

Annual pot protest-meets-festival in Vancouver attracted hundreds to vendors, concert

New funds, recruits set to alleviate B.C. sheriff shortage

The Government of British Columbia announced new sheriff graduates, funding for more classes

Video: RCMP investigation gets a deer little photobomb

Princeton RCMP were conducting a drug investigation in Princeton which a deer strolled through

Farnworth says five years too long for feds to deal with organized crime in medical pot

Needs to be dealt with much sooner than that, B.C. Public Safety Minister says

UPDATED: Unions, CP Rail come to agreement, avoiding work stoppage

Locomotive engineers, conductors and signals specialists seeking new collective agreements.

B.C. woman known to hitchhike around province missing

Aislynn Hanson, 18, last seen April 13; known to travel throughout B.C. by hitchhiking

B.C. court relies on Facebook to track down missing defendant

A court in Princeton, B.C. relied on Facebook to track down a B.C. missing his court date

Cops corral pig on the loose on Vancouver Island

Police “put the grab” on pig before it can cross the highway on Vancouver Island

Most Read