Lack of Palliative Care is a Failure in Too Many MaiD Requests

Romayne Gallagher

When a person with a failing organ, stroke or other chronic life-limiting disease has persistent suffering that goes untreated, they can become depressed and hopeless. It’s a common pathway to severe distress that can lead people to request Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).

This is a medical error.

The error is not in receiving MAiD, as the person may meet all the requirements: unbearable suffering, a grievous and permanent condition, an advanced state of decline, ability to give informed and voluntary consent. The error occurred in the months before, when the pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, feeling a burden to others began, but was not recognized and treated. Because there is no single event or “fail,” the slide into despair is gradual.

… Substantial changes must be made to the provision of palliative care across this country. Otherwise our healthcare system continues to fail individuals when they most need help, whether they die naturally or by MAiD.

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