NEWS
03/03/2016 16:35 EST | Updated 03/04/2017 00:12 EST

Doctor in assisted-dying case wants college to allow nurses to help

The Vancouver doctor who helped a Calgary woman legally end her life this week is concerned that B.C. healthcare workers are being discouraged from helping doctors when it comes to physician-assisted-dying cases. 

"I want the college to change to get guidelines for the nurses so that if I need a nurse I can get one," Dr. W, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban. told CBC Radio's The Early Edition.

"I have nurses who are more than willing to come and assist me … and yet they can't because of their college and what their college says about it."

An Alberta court ruled Tuesday that Ms. S, identified as such to protect her privacy, would be allowed to end her life because she met certain criteria for legal exemption. This is believed to be the first known case of a legal exemption, outside of Quebec, in Canada.

It follows a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in January that said people with grievous and irremediable medical conditions should have the right to ask a doctor to help them die.

'My pharmacist backed out'

Despite the ruling in Ms. S's favour, Dr. W says she faced difficulties preparing for the physician-assisted-dying procedure.

Dr. W says several pharmacists had promised to help her organize the doses, but ultimately they could not help her.

"I had some very supportive pharmacists ready to help me … and then the College of Pharmacists put out a notice to their pharmacists to say they should be getting a lawyer if they were considering helping a physician," she said.

"So, my pharmacist backed out."

Dr. W ultimately did find the correct drugs and dosage, but she says she had to "scramble" due to the last minute change.

With the help of Dr. W, Ms. S passed away Tuesday, surrounded by family.