Federal government proposes new monitoring system for medical assistance in dying

The federal government has released proposed new rules for tracking those who request medical assistance in dying and those approved to receive it, in an effort to foster public trust in the new regime.

Doctors, nurses and pharmacists will all be required to report cases of medical assistance in dying

Proposals for monitoring doctor assisted deaths in Canada would require doctors and nurses to report if the patient withdraws the request, if the patient is found to be ineligible, or they have died from something other than medical assistance in dying. (CBC News)

The federal government has released proposed new rules for tracking people who request a doctor assisted death — and those who receive one — in an effort to foster public trust in the new regime.

The proposed regulations, posted in the Canada Gazette today, would require doctors, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists to file reports when a patient asks for medical assistance in dying.

Doctors and nurses would also have to report if a patient withdraws their request, if the patient is found to be ineligible, or a patient dies from something other than a medically assisted death.

The document says collecting analyzing and publicly reporting the data is critical to "foster public trust and provide transparency and accountability."

"The proposed regime would provide Canadians with a clear picture of how the legislation is working across the country," the document outlining the proposed rules reads.

The suggested regulations require pharmacists to report every time they dispense drugs necessary for the procedure. That information must include basic information on the patient, the doctor the date and where the drugs were used.

Health Canada will then publicly release a report every year, highlighting the number of requests, as well as the number of people who were refused and why.

Most cases cancer related

So far the federal government has released two interim reports on the number of medically assisted deaths in Canada. Those reports were based on information voluntarily provided by the provinces and territories.

The most recent report this past October showed that in the first year doctor assisted deaths were legal, more than 2,000 Canadians, most of whom were between the age of 56 and 85, received the procedure. 

Most Canadians who had the procedure were suffering from terminal cancer; other medical conditions include neuro-degenerative disorders and circulatory or respiratory system failures.

Doctor assisted deaths represent less then one per cent of all fatalities in Canada. 

The public can comment on the proposed regulations for the next two months. The federal government hopes to have them in place by next summer.

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