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Medical Assistance in Dying Update

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6

Jun

2016

Medical Assistance in Dying Update

We have been sharing information with you with respect to Bill C-14, proposed legislation that would amend the Criminal Code to allow medical assistance in dying (MAiD) in specific circumstances. It was anticipated that federal legislation would be in place on June 6th but that legislation has not been finalized and federal law may not be in place for a number of weeks.

In the interim, although physician assisted dying is legal as of June 6th, in accordance with the Carter decision, there remains questions about the role of other health care professionals including nurses. Therefore at this time, we recommend that nurses should not participate in the provision of assisted dying.

We understand that many of our members will have questions about what this means and our goal is to support you as your regulator and to keep you well-informed about all MAiD developments as they occur. We have developed a resource titled Medical Assistance in Dying: A Guideline for Nurses  (these guidelines were updated on June 17,2016 click here to view them) to help you better understand your accountabilities and authority as a nurse and to address any questions you may have as we wait for further developments.

We would also encourage you to take part in a webinar on Thursday June 16th at 2 pm that will be co-hosted by the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia and the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia. A recorded version of the webinar will be available on our website for those who are unable to participate in the live session. Click here for more webinar details.

We are committed to providing all of our stakeholders with developments as they occur and we encourage you to watch for our emails and to stay tuned to crnns.ca for more information. In the meantime, please contact one of our Practice Consultants for more detailed support by emailing practice@crnns.ca or calling 902-491-9744 to speak with Trent MacIsaac, CRNNS Practice Consultant or Lynn Miller, CRNNS Policy Consultant.

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2 Responses to “Medical Assistance in Dying Update”

  1. Bev Hicks says:

    Hi, I have heard on the news that nurses are not to discuss MAID, is this a true statement?

    • CRNNS says:

      It is important to note that the Carter decision was silent on the role of registered nurses (RNs), nurse practitioners (NPs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) in MAiD; therefore at this time it is unclear what involvement they can or should undertake. Because of this, there remains a risk that conversations with clients about assisted death could be construed as counselling in a way that remains a crime contrary to the Criminal Code, which means that those involved in providing counselling about assisted death (other than physicians) could be subject to criminal prosecution. This could carry implications for a nurses’ license to practice. If nurses are approached by a client or a family who want to explore MAiD, they must contact a physician, such as the client’s attending physician, and ask them to speak to the client. Nurses must not provide information about assisted death to the client or family directly, but should reassure the client that steps have been taken to arrange timely access to information about MAiD by informing their physician about their request. The Carter decision does not change nurses’ accountabilities as they relate to clients who are seeking advice about other end of life issues or who require palliative care. CRNNS will provide updates as further information becomes available.

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