The article co-authored by Maureen Taylor and Sandra Martin raises important issues that are resulting in new debate and attention in our thinking concerning physician-assisted death. It is likely that a change in policy is forthcoming, especially with the emerging force of a growing demographic who value personal choice and autonomy and are well-versed in the range of medical technologies and practices available. The issue of physician-assisted death cannot be understood apart from considering current models of healthcare and the role of adequate supportive care and psychosocial support.
Despite having access to research and frameworks to inform quality palliative care, as well as communication competencies and guidelines to assist practitioners in the management of debilitating symptoms, our current healthcare system consists of healthcare professionals who continue to be challenged in their abilities to alleviate complex and challenging symptoms and distress. We will need to carefully assess our systems and plan well ahead for changes in policy to provide optimal, ethical and safe approaches to the offering of services around assisted death as an option for end-of-life care.
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