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Update on Medical Assistance in Dying

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Update on Medical Assistance in Dying

Federal Legislation Tabled April 14, 2016

On April 14, 2016, the federal government introduced draft legislation in response to the 2015 Carter decision by the Supreme Court of Canada. The proposed legislation, tabled as Bill C-14, will amend the Criminal Code to allow for medical assistance in dying (MAiD) in specified situations.

It is important to note that this legislation is not yet in effect. For the time being, the Criminal Code provisions against assisting in dying remain in place. This means that until the federal legislation is finalized, and the role of registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) is clarified, we recommend that you not initiate or engage in discussions with clients or families about MAiD. If you are approached for information about MAiD we recommend you inform the client or family that you will contact the patient’s attending physician and have the physician come and speak to them about their questions and concerns.

We understand that members have questions about changes to the law about MAiD and how it impacts your nursing practice and your clients, today and in the future. As a result, we have updated the Q&A document (Q&A document removed because it was no longer current. Please refer to Medical Assistance in Dying Guidelines for Nurses: these guidelines were updated on July 27,2016 click here to view them) to provide guidance and help address some of your questions.

What the proposed legislation means for RNs and NPs 
The proposed legislation would change the Criminal Code to allow nurse practitioners (NPs) and physicians to provide eligible individuals assistance in dying without the risk of criminal prosecution. The legislation outlines safeguards to ensure those who ask for medical assistance in dying are eligible, can give informed consent, and voluntarily request it.

Registered nurses (RNs) and others who assist physicians or NPs in providing MAID would also be permitted to do so under the new law without the risk of criminal charges.

Collaborating Partners
CRNNS is working collaboratively with national and provincial nursing stakeholders to ensure that resources and supports are in place to prepare nurses to adapt their practice to meet client needs in light of these changes.

CRNNS will continue to monitor the situation and keep you informed. We encourage all members to take the time to review the proposed legislation and the supporting resources published by the federal government and to stay tuned for future developments.

Have specific questions about the impact this will have on nursing practice?
Nurses provide important care to clients though all stages of their life span including end of life and nurses are often the first health care professional with whom patients discuss end-of-life treatment options. Regardless of future developments related to MAID, nurses will continue to provide safe, competent, compassionate and ethical care to clients at the end of their lives.

We have developed a Q&A document (Q&A document removed because it was no longer current. Please refer to Medical Assistance in Dying Guidelines for Nurses.) to provide guidance about current rules on MAiD that apply to your nursing practice and client care. Also stay tuned to our website for developments as they happen.

Who do I contact for more information?
If you wish to speak with a Practice Consultant for more detailed support please email or call 902-491-9744 to speak with Trent MacIsaac or Lynn Miller.

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