Jul 06, 2017

By Jane Brown

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Ontario’s assisted dying law is supposed to improve access for grievously ill patients while easing the moral burden on physicians who object to referring patients for assisted death.

But the new coordination program does not appear to be working that well.

The number of Ontario clinicians registered to participate in medical aid in dying has fallen dramatically since the program was started. A published report says only 74 doctors and nurse practitioners have signed up for the new care co-ordination service, down from 181 when the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care shut down its confidential referral list of medical-aid-in-dying providers on May 31st.

The governing Liberals at Queen’s Park have expressed confidence that more clinicians will register as the new service matures, but front line providers say the shortcomings of the care coordination service are turning off some doctors. And this could make it more difficult for eligible patients to find someone to help them end their lives. The service connects patients to doctors willing to help them, but does not make the arrangements for the whole process.

In Ontario, 548 people have chosen a medically assisted death since the federal law took effect a little more than a year ago.

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