Using non-beneficial medications or failing to offer comfort medications to chronically ill patients is potentially harmful, time-consuming and simply bad medical care. Unnecessary or unwarranted medical interventions, including medications, are also costly to the healthcare system. It's time to embrace new ways of thinking.
The need for people also to make advance directives (often called living wills) and to discuss them with family is greater than ever as medical technology advances, but there is a serious legal problem. You may have an advance directive signed in perfect health clearly stating your wishes, but if and when you become incompetent, current law in some provinces permits your next of kin or power of attorney to ignore it. Surely new legislation must recognize and prevent this potential abuse that most people would find offensive and unacceptable.
There are many common misconceptions about CPR -- created, in part, by prime-time medical television programs showing patients being brought back almost miraculously from the brink of death. There's no doubt that CPR can be a lifesaver in certain situations. But CPR is not quite as successful as it's portrayed on TV.
Imagine, one day, without any warning, you find yourself in a hospital in a life-threatening situation, unable to communicate. Who would speak for you and make health care decisions on your behalf? That's a question that all Canadians need to contemplate -- but recent studies indicate that most of us have not.
If all this sounds too daunting, here is some language you might want to consider. Imagine turning to the person you have in mind and begin by saying something like, "I love you." If that feels like a stretch, you can always start with: "Look, I care about you, most of the time" or "What matters to you matters to me."
It's time to shift away from the messy public spectacles regarding euthanasia. Instead let's follow Quebec's lead -- Canadians everywhere should be able to choose from a full range of end-of-life options, including -- if the prerequisites are met, the option of a medically assisted suicide. There aren't really any scary precedents or slippery slopes here. What there is, is an alternative to an existence of suffering and pain that should, and can be afforded to a terminally ill, palliative treated, mentally competent adult.