Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Doctors Group Looking at Intensive Course to Train Willing MDs in Assisted Death

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Doctors Group Looking at Intensive Course to Train Willing MDs in Assisted Death

Article excerpt

MDs will need training in assisted dying: CMA

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Doctors who are willing to assist in a patient's death once the act becomes legal early next year will need to be trained because they've never been taught the procedures for ending a life, the Canadian Medical Association says.

"There's a lot of complexity in this for Canadian doctors and it's the first time really any of us can remember that (we) have been forced to undertake an entirely new procedure or new intervention without any training or experience," Dr. Jeff Blackmer, vice-president of medical professionalism, told a media briefing Tuesday during the CMA's annual meeting in Halifax.

Blackmer said the 80,000-member doctors' organization is considering an intensive two-day course for physicians "who have never had to learn this, who have not taken it in medical school or residency."

Physicians who choose not to participate in assisted death may be offered an online course so they can counsel patients who want to pursue help in dying. Those who are willing to provide the service would continue to take courses over the years, he said.

"We want to make sure people are trained and have the competencies to do this," Blackmer said.

On Feb. 6 of this year, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the law banning doctors from assisting a patient to die or from performing euthanasia. The court stayed its decision for a year to give the federal government time to draft and pass replacement legislation.

If no such law is passed, doctors can legally begin helping patients who meet certain criteria to end their lives.

Outgoing CMA president Dr. Chris Simpson said time is growing short for regulators to determine how the service would be provided and how doctors would decide whether a given patient is eligible for assisted death under the Supreme Court's ruling.

"We don't want to arrive at Feb. 6 with everybody saying, 'Well, assisted dying in Canada is legal. Does anybody know how to do it? Does anybody know who qualifies? …

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