A large Victorian palliative care organisation is refusing to verify the deaths of patients who have died at home under the state’s voluntary assisted dying laws in a move described by some doctors as “discriminatory and unethical.”
Doctors have also reported instances of pharmacists carrying lethal medication for people with permits to die under the laws being refused entry into religious palliative care organisations, almost two years after landmark laws were introduced in Victoria.
Two hundred and twenty-four Victorians suffering a terminal illness have died using a government-endorsed lethal medication since the laws came into effect in June 2019.
But in one case, police had to be called to verify the death of a man in December, who obtained a permit before drinking approved lethal medication at his home. The man was in the final stages of kidney disease and was a patient of Eastern Palliative Care, but staff who had cared for him were not permitted by the service to attend his home when he died or to verify his death afterwards.
The man’s family was left distressed when two police cars and an ambulance arrived at the house.
Melbourne oncologist Cameron McLaren said the health service was within its rights not to participate in voluntary assisted dying, but its refusal to verify deaths afterwards was “discriminating against patients who had chosen a lawful way to die.”
“It is their job to support a patient through the dying process and support the patient’s family through it,” Dr McLaren said.
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[Source: Sydney Morning Herald]