Rasouli ruling underscores importance of advance care directives, CMA says

OTTAWA, Oct. 18, 2013 /CNW/ - Today's ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Rasouli case reinforcing the role of the Ontario Consent and Capacity Board as the dispute resolution authority on the issue of consent for incapable patients, underscores the importance of advance care directives, the Canadian Medical Association says.

"There are no winners and losers in a tragic situation like this, but this does show clearly that all Canadians must make their care wishes clear with advance care directives," said CMA President-elect Dr. Chris Simpson.

As medicine is able to do more and more it becomes increasingly important that patients have crucial conversations and detailed discussions with family members and their physicians. Health care professionals must also encourage discussion of advance care directives and help patients and their families develop them.

``It is important to note that it is rare for there to be a disagreement of this type and physicians strive to work and communicate with patients and their families when faced with these heart-wrenching decisions,'' Dr. Simpson said. ``Never in my 21 years of medicine have I seen a case like this one.''

Canada's doctors are committed to treating and caring for their patients in all stages of their lives, from birth to death and it is upon the strong patient-physician relationship that high-quality care flourishes throughout the continuum of care.

"As we have seen recently, the issue of end-of-life care is one that has captured public and media attention — as it should," said Dr. Simpson. "Physicians are also grappling with end-of-life issues but and because we believe broader societal discussion is required, the CMA will be engaging Canadians in a public dialogue on end-of-life issues beginning in early 2014."

Regardless of what society ultimately decides, the CMA maintains that Canada must intensify efforts to broaden availability of palliative care in Canada. Adequate palliative care services must be made available to all Canadians where and when they need them.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, the CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing more than 78,000 of Canada's physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 51 national medical organizations. CMA's mission is to serve and unite the physicians of Canada and be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health care.

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association

For further information:

Lucie Boileau
Senior Advisor, Communications and Public Outreach
Email: lucie.boileau@cma.ca
Tel: 613-731-8610 ext. 1266 Cell: 613-447-0866


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