N.B. Medical Society cautiously approaching assisted dying requests
A directive from the prosecution service has failed to allay the fears of medical professionals in New Brunswick wary of proceeding with requests for physician-assisted death.
Crown lawyers have been told not to prosecute health professionals who take part in physician-assisted death, so long as Supreme Court guidelines are followed.
Anthony Knight of the New Brunswick Medical Society says that clarifies a few points or concern, but not enough.
“We don't think (the proposals) are necessarily helpful,” said Knight. “I think it’s good to know that individuals are likely not to be criminally prosecuted, but at the same time there are a lot of unanswered questions as a consequence of the absence of legislation from the government.”
The Nurses Association of New Brunswick is waiting for final legislation, as well.
“We've decided until a final decision is made, it’s best to cautious in our approach to that,” said Laurie Janes of the Nurses Association of New Brunswick.
Janes has been fielding calls from nurses wondering what happens now.
“We're really taking a prudent approach to any kind of change in practice until a final ruling is made and new legislation is finalized,” said Janes.
Paul Blanchard of the New Brunswick Pharmacist Association says the directive is welcomed, but may not be enough.
“In the absence of the structure … our members still have a lot of questions,” he said. “Does the physician or nurse practitioner need to be present at the beginning of the process, and at the end of the process when the person is actually dying?”
They are questions that leaving medical professionals in limbo.
“We’re encouraging (physicians) to act cautiously and seek legal advice before undertaking any kind of service like this to their patients,” said Knight.
The Office of the Attorney General says the directive will stay place until legislation is enacted.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore.