This December, Quebec will become the first jurisdiction in Canada to allow competent adults experiencing intolerable suffering at the end of life to request “medical aid in dying,” aka physician-assisted suicide, aka euthanasia.
Bill 52 allows doctors to administer lethal injections to mentally fit patients suffering an incurable illness who are in constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain, in an advanced state of irreversible decline. and be at the end of life.
Sharon Kirkey reports for National Post, Aug. 28, 2015, that Quebec doctors will soon be given standardized kits with which to end the lives of patients seeking euthanasia, along with detailed instructions as the province prepares to usher in legalized aid in dying. The
euthanasia patient-killing kit will include:
- A sedative to calm the patient
- A drug to induce a deep coma
- A drug to induce cardiorespiratory arrest (two sets of each drug to provide a backup in case of complications)
- Needles in different calibre sizes
- IV tubing
- IV solutions
The Collège des médecins du Québec has developed a new guideline for doctors unlike any in the history of Canadian medicine: a step-by-step guide to follow before, during and after
administering euthanasia to killing an eligible patient, including the type of drugs to be used, the dose, the injection site and what to do in the event of complications. The guideline, developed in collaboration with the Order of Pharmacists of Quebec and the Order of Nurses of Quebec, will be available to doctors, nurses and other health professionals on a secure area of the college’s website because, according to college secretary Dr. Yves Robert, “We don’t want these recipes made too easily available to everyone.”
Robert insists, “It is clearly not euthanasia on demand. It is clearly not that.”
In February, the Supreme Court of Canada threw out the century-old Criminal Code prohibitions against “physician-assisted death.” In so doing, legal experts say the court opened the door to both euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide — where the doctor writes a prescription for a life-ending overdose the patient then takes himself.
Modeled on a 3-phased formula used in the Netherlands, the Quebec guideline could become a model for all of Canada. The three steps are:
- First, a benzodiazepine, a type of sedative, would be injected to help control anxiety and “help calm the patient,” Robert said.
- Next, a barbiturate drug would be injected to induce a coma.
- The third step would be a neuromuscular block, a derivative of curare that acts on the respiratory muscles to cause cardio-respiratory arrest, i. e., the person’s heart and lungs will cease functioning.
People requesting euthanasia can stop the processes at any time, up until the last moment before the loss of consciousness. The whole process, from beginning to death, “would probably take something around 15 minutes,” Robert said.
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