Hospital guidelines still pending after Carter v. Canada

November 4, 2015 Suzana Popovic-Montag advocatedaily 0 Comments
Estates & Wills & Trusts

Hospital guidelines still pending after Carter v. Canada



Suzana Popovic-Montag

Following the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General) to lift the prohibition against physician-assisted dying, lawyers haven’t seen any changes in practice in hospitals, as physicians remain cautious without guidelines and standards in place, Toronto trusts and estates lawyer Suzana Popovic-Montag tells Law Times.

“It is an unbelievable thing to even think about partaking in and especially without guidelines. Doctors still have the right to refuse to partake in it in recognition it’s a moral, personal, and ethical decision for each doctor that’s asked to assist,” says Popovic-Montag, managing partner of Hull & Hull LLP.

As Law Times reports, federal and provincial panels are currently investigating foreign practices and formulating workable legislative options.

Although there is a fear that “this will be a slippery slope with people abusing it,” says Popovic-Montag, she adds that: “it scares me more that someone might apply it in error because it’s not undoable. The court recognizes that other jurisdictions are doing it and doing it well.”

The article notes that the Supreme Court has given some guidance and parameters to the health profession that lawyers are making note of in their drafting. Popovic-Montag says that practitioners start with the law.

“The key is clear consent by a competent individual with a grievous or irremediable condition enduring suffering that is intolerable to that individual. That’s a pretty subjective test on each one of those,” says Popovic-Montag.

The key element of the decision, Popovic-Montag says in the article, has been the increased awareness of the issue of physician-assisted dying.

“Now, there is a discussion because the Supreme Court has blessed the fact that doctors can assist the critically ill. We currently have do-not-resuscitate orders, the right to refuse or withdraw treatment, the right to refuse food and drink, and palliative sedation, which is typically the last resort. What assisted death does is to give an alternative to the last one. The physicians can really relieve suffering and hasten death.”

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