Doctors for Dignity Bulletin – September 2016
We sent the following email, part of a monthly series, to our Doctors for Dignity last week:
A recent survey shows 54% of Maryland physicians support medical aid in dying. The survey was pursuant to a resolution from the Maryland State Medical Society House of Delegates. 65% percent favored a position of either support (50%) or neutrality (15%) toward Maryland legislation to authorize medical aid in dying. These results are consistent with physician surveys in other states and nationwide.
Click here to read the full report, and check out the resource below to find out how you can influence your state’s medical society.
This new handbook will help you begin the conversations that lead to policy change within your state, local or specialty medical association. You’ll learn facts and tips that will help you communicate with confidence. The handbook includes a step-by-step guide to changing your society’s policy position.
This month, Compassion & Choices Medical Director David Grube, M.D. answers the following:
Q. In states where medical aid in dying is authorized some physicians choose not to participate. What is the physician’s professional responsibility to her or his patient?
A: The definition of medical professionalism is to put the patient first.
Shared medical decision making requires the competent and compassionate doctor to listen, to teach, to explain, and to offer standards of care to the patient. If a medical treatment or procedure does not fall within the personal beliefs of a practitioner, she or he is obliged to refer the patient to another physician for counsel and care. (An example in family medicine might be a referral for consideration for a circumcision if the attending physician does not believe that it is in the best interest of the child. Recall, the referral is not for the procedure, but for the consideration of it.)
All referrals should be timely and urgent; if there is one thing that the dying patient does not have, it is time. If a terminal patient might consider medical aid in dying, I recommend that this patient and his or her family have a conversation about this with their personal physician well in advance of the need. They must be prepared for the possibility that their primary care physician will not support them. If a physician practices medicine within a limited religious ideology or institution, that should be disclosed to the patient at an early visit.
Thanks for all you do,
Rebecca Thoman, M.D.
Campaign Manager, Doctors for Dignity
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