Re: Article “Film provides lesson on dignified dying,” published Oct. 2 and “Patients should have a say in own deaths, doc says,” published Aug. 22.
In response to these two articles, I have serious concerns about the type of care we should be providing in our community. To that end, I add a few clarifications.
First, individuals have a right, by law, to refuse or to accept treatments or procedures proposed by physicians and health care professionals.
Second, one should not confuse refusal of treatments with euthanasia or assisted suicide. Killing someone remains illegal in Canada.
Third, patients diagnosed with any type of disease should be informed of the diagnosis and provided with options that include the relief of pain and symptoms, especially when facing a terminal illness.
Fourth, two of my three specialties are in palliative care and I have learned through many courses and hours of clinical practice that sick individuals require professional accompaniment for their biological, psychological, sociological and spiritual needs.
For more than 20 years, I have learned we can do a lot to assist patients and their families through the difficult end-of-life journey by assessing and providing appropriate support. Killing someone does not help us to learn how to provide better care for the next person.
As we gain experience, we should be able to provide better care and better service, such that assisted dying does not need to be an option.
May I suggest that if a health-care professional is not familiar with palliative care, that a clinical preceptorship at the palliative care unit of Health Sciences North or at Maison Vale Hospice would enable professionals to gain a better understanding of how palliative care enhances quality of life.
Furthermore, can we educate each other on palliative care and expand our understanding of health care?
Dr. Paul-André Gauthier
Clinical Nurse Speciaist,