Wealthier patients more likely to use medical assistance in dying, data show
2020-02-12 from theglobeandmail.com
Patients who choose medically assisted death are wealthier, younger, more likely to be married and less likely to live in long-term care than those who die naturally, according to a major study of assisted dying in Canada’s most populous province.
The authors of the new Ontario research say its findings – which are based on reviews of every assisted-dying case in the province over two years – counter fears that the procedure would become a final refuge for patients too poor and vulnerable to access high-quality health services, including palliative care.
Instead, the opposite has proved true: It is the affluent, not the marginalized, who most often avail themselves of the assisted-dying law that Canada enacted nearly four years ago.
"These were people who very obviously had socioeconomic means,” James Downar, lead author of the new study, said of the patients he helped to die in the early days of legal medical assistance in dying (MAID).
“It was very unusual to see anything but well-educated [patients] who were well aware of their rights and options and definitely had access to good palliative care.”
The new research, published Wednesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, comes at a critical moment in the evolution of the country’s approach to assisted dying.
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