Some recent examples: two people got medical help to shorten their days when they were not even at the end of their life. Two other patients did not have a serious and incurable disease. A third person’s health card had expired.
In all these cases, the law on end-of-life care was not strictly observed.
Since its entry into force in December 2015, there have been a total of 43 cases of medical support for causing death that have been granted in violation of the law. This is 7% of the total of 648 cases listed.
In most cases, it was the necessary independence of one of the two doctors involved in the process that was at issue. The doctor must have no connection with the patient who made the request for help. It cannot therefore be the patient’s attending physician or family physician.
This is what emerges from the annual report of the Commission on end-of-life care tabled Thursday in the National Assembly by the Minister of Health, Gaétan Barrette.
Since December 2015, the number of requests from dying patients wishing to take advantage of this law to accelerate their death has been growing steadily.
Many of them, however, were refused or did not receive the help requested. There are a total of 462, since December 2015, for all kinds of reasons.
Of the total, 128 had time to die before the administrative process enshrined in law took its course.
About a hundred others (103) changed their mind and withdrew their request.
Many (195) of the applicants did not meet the strict criteria defined in the law (including suffering from an incurable disease, enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering, being in agony, of being of legal age and power from start to finish to give informed consent).
The mandate of the commission is to examine any question relating to end-of-life care and to monitor the application of the specific requirements relating to medical assistance in dying. It must also ensure that all Quebec patients considered to be in agony who wish to shorten their suffering have access to end-of-life care to which they are entitled, throughout Quebec.