Today's Family Medicine News Highlights
April 27, 2017
Overcrowding in hospitals needs better management
Ontario finance minister says budget will contain funding to address problem of patients in hospital hallways
Saskatchewan’s child and youth advocate calls for enhancing prevention and early intervention supports in mental health resources
Shortage of blood donations in Hamilton may lead to cancellation in local surgeries
Hundreds of nurses and front-line workers rallied at Manitoba Legislature to protest health care cuts
Doctor shortage in Nova Scotia worsens as growing number of physicians near retirement
MLAs press for more support for mental health and addiction services in PEI health budget debate
Federal health minister announces funding for new projects that aim to increase vaccination coverage
800-plus Canadians received medical help to die in first six months
WRITTEN BY JOAN BRYDEN ON APRIL 26, 2017 FOR THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA – Just over 800 Canadians received medical help to end their lives during the first six months of a federal law that restricts medical assistance in dying to individuals who are already near death. An interim report by the federal government shows there were 803 medically assisted deaths between June 17, 2016, when the law was enacted, and the end of December 2016.
An additional 167 assisted deaths occurred prior to last June in Quebec, which adopted its own law on medically assisted dying in December 2015.
The report says only a tiny fraction—0.4%—of the assisted deaths involved individuals who self-administered a lethal drug; the vast majority sought the aid of a medical professional.
Roughly an equal number of men and women, with an average age of about 72, took advantage of the new law, which allows assisted dying only for individuals in an advanced state of irreversible decline from an incurable condition and for whom natural death is “reasonably foreseeable.” The report does not specify how many requests for assisted death were rejected.
The most common underlying medical conditions that prompted individuals to receive assistance to end their lives were cancer (56.8%), neuro-degenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (23.2%) and circulatory-respiratory conditions (10.5%).
About half the assisted deaths occurred in hospitals, while some 37% took place in the home, 6% in long-term care facilities and 7% elsewhere, according to the report released April 26.
Some 65% of the assisted deaths were in large urban centres, 34% in smaller communities.
The statistics are somewhat sketchy given that the report is based on information provided to the federal government by provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for the delivery of healthcare and which use different reporting methods.
Nor do they include data from Yukon or Nunavut, due to privacy concerns arising from the small numbers of individuals in those territories who received an assisted death.
The federal government is in the process of developing national regulations for collecting and publicly reporting on information related to requests for and provision of medical assistance in dying. Those regulations are not expected to come into force until next year. In the meantime, federal and provincial governments are collaborating to issue interim reports, of which this one is the first.
The scope of data currently available on medically assisted deaths is “relatively limited,” the report acknowledges.
Bilan de l’aide médicale à mourir depuis décembre 2015 : 970 Canadiens
Rapport de Santé Canada sur l’aide à mourir : 970 cas avec le Québec
L’aide à mourir plus sollicitée au Québec, toute proportion gardée
Les intervenants de première ligne plus vulnérables au stress
Des médicaments en vente libre propices à la dépendance