Navigating the complex relationship between palliative care and MAiD
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CMAJ Podcasts
Navigating the complex relationship between palliative care and MAiD
May 06, 2024
Canadian Medical Association Journal

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On this episode of the CMAJ Podcast, Dr. Blair Bigham and Dr. Mojola Omole explore the intricate relationship between medical assistance in dying (MAiD) and palliative care in Canada. They focus on a qualitative study titled "Perspectives of Canadian healthcare leaders on the relationship between medical assistance in dying and palliative and end-of-life care services: a qualitative study," which interviewed 36 professionals from both fields. The study reveals significant gaps in collaboration and coordination, leading to feelings of exclusion among MAiD providers.

Dr. Gilla Shapiro, a co-author of the study, discusses the diverse perspectives of health leaders on the integration of MAiD and palliative care services. She highlights the challenges posed by geographical, institutional, and personal factors in standardizing the relationship between these services. Dr. Shapiro shares insights into the initial tensions and the gradual improvements in cooperation, stressing the necessity for enhanced education, reduced stigma, and improved communication with patients to foster a collaborative environment that prioritizes their welfare.

Following this, the conversation shifts to Dr. Christopher Blake, a palliative care physician from Peterborough, Ontario. Dr. Blake shares his surprise at the study's finding that support for physician assisted dying among MAiD and palliative care practitioners is lower than that of the general population. He articulates a clear distinction between the objectives of palliative care and MAiD, the need for a seamless transition between services, and the ethical implications when patients are moved from palliative care to MAiD without adequate support. Dr. Blake advocates for robust funding for coordination and the establishment of clear standards across healthcare services, highlighting the importance of a unified approach in end-of-life care.

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