Are you up to Standard? Medical Assistance in Dying

Collette D. Are You Up to Standard?, Messenger, Standards

MAID is now legally available in Canada.

The College’s Council of practising physicians and public members has approved a new standard of practice for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) and amendments to the Informed Consent and Conscientious Objection standards. These standards reflect feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, including Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services, regulated members and the public. Once legislation is in place, the MAID standard of practice and advice will be updated as needed. Here’s what you need to know.

A request for MAID is just the start of the conversation.

As a physician, care and compassion should guide your response to any patient who expresses an interest in MAID.  You will need to have a full and thoughtful discussion with the patient. Seek to understand the patient’s circumstances, perspective and reason for contemplating MAID, and ensure the patient is fully informed of the diagnosis, the natural history and prognosis of the medical condition and all treatment options, including the risks and benefits. Once fully informed, if the patient is eligible for MAID and has the capacity to make the decision, you must respect the patient’s autonomy in deciding whether to proceed.

Contact the AHS care coordination service for support.

Visit the AHS website at ahs.ca/maid and email maid.careteam@ahs.ca, and also provide this contact information to your patient. The AHS care coordination service has expertise and resources to support physicians and patients through the MAID process.

Conscientious objection can’t impede patient access.

The same as all Canadians, every member of a patient’s care team has a Charter freedom of conscience and religion; this must be balanced with the patient’s right to legally available and appropriate care.

While an individual physician is not required to provide MAID, the physician must help the patient access all options for care. Typically, this will mean directing the patient to the AHS care coordination service atahs.ca/maid.

More resources are available.

Go to the CPSA website for up-to-date information and easy links to these and other resources:

  • Medical Assistance in Dying standard (new) and Advice to the Profession (includes requirements for witnessed request, second medical opinion, capacity assessment and more)
  • Informed Consent standard (reissued June 2016)
  • Conscientious Objection standard (reissued June 2016, formerly Moral or Religious Beliefs Affecting Medical Care)
  • AHS care coordination service
  • Physician and Family Support Program (confidential personal support for physicians)

Questions? Please contact chantelle.dick@cpsa.ab.ca