Released June 6, 2016, updated July 7, 2016
Medical Assistance in Dying:
What Every Nurse Should Know
On June 17, 2016, the federal government’s Bill C-14 An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying) (“Bill C-14”) received royal assent and became law in Canada. As a result of receiving royal assent, the provisions of Bill C-14 which amend the Criminal Code now form part of the Code, and set out the circumstances when medical assistance is dying will not be considered a criminal offence. In this document, we will also refer to these provisions of Bill C-14 as “the Criminal Code”.
Nurses have always been central care providers in end-of-life care. Now that Bill C-14 has come into effect, what does this mean for nurses in Canada?
For nurse practitioners:
1) Now that Bill C-14 has become law, can I provide MAID to my patients?
2) What if I am not prepared to participate in MAID?
3) What are the eligibility criteria for MAID?
4) What other considerations exist when providing MAID?
5) Can I provide MAID to mature minors or children?
6) Can I provide MAID in the context of an advance directive?
7) Can I be part of a MAID team consisting of multiple health professionals with the sole purpose of providing MAID services to patients?
8) Can I provide information to my patients about MAID now that Bill C-14 has become law?
For registered nurses (and other nursing professions):
1) Now that Bill C-14 is law, what does this mean for RNs?
2) What other considerations exist with respect to MAID?
3) What if I am not prepared to participate in MAID?
4) As an RN, can I provide information to my patients about MAID?
5) Can I still provide nursing care to patients at the end-of-life?
6) As an RN, can I be part of a MAID team consisting of multiple health professionals with the sole purpose of providing MAID services to patients?
General Q & A: More answers to some pressing questions for NPs and RNs*
1) What is the difference between “physician-assisted death” and “medical assistance in dying”?
2) If my province or territory issued a statement regarding exemption from criminal prosecution for participating in MAID, is that statement still valid given the coming into force of Bill C-14?
3) Can I still provide nursing care to patients at the end-of-life?
4) Can I provide information about assisted death?
5) Will I be considered to be “assisting” in the provision of MAID simply by being present in the room while the patient is being prepared and the substance is administered?
6) Can I undertake work in helping to draft policies and procedures for MAID in the institution in which I work?
7) What if I am not prepared to participate in MAID?
* If you have more questions that are not addressed in this briefing, please send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will include the answers in an updated version.