Medical associations remain silent on physician training for assisted suicide
8 mins read

Medical associations remain silent on physician training for assisted suicide

Medical associations remain silent on physician training for assisted suicide

The practice is legal in 10 states for patients deemed terminally ill.

Physician-directed suicide, called “medical assistance in dying” by advocates, is legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia, but major medical associations have been tight-lipped about how doctors are trained in the practice.

More than a dozen other states are considering similar legislation this year to allow doctors to give life-ending drugs to terminally ill adults with six months or less to live and to request them. But none of the medical groups contacted Repair were willing to answer questions about training on the controversial practice.

The American Medical Association opposes the practice, stating in its code of ethics that “euthanasia is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious social risks.”

“Euthanasia could easily be extended to incapacitated patients and other vulnerable groups,” the position paper reads.

However, the AMA did not respond to numerous requests for comment. College Repair by phone and via a media contact form. Questions included how doctors are trained to perform physician-prescribed suicide in states where it is legal, whether medical schools teach it, and whether there are any restrictions on teaching it in medical schools.

The Association of American Medical Colleges, which oversees the accreditation of medical schools, asked Repair to the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization when contacted for comment in a recent email.

In response to a question about whether the AAMC has an official position on the matter, a spokesperson said: Repair it is not.

Elyssa Katz, a spokeswoman for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, said: Repair in a June email, the position statement supporting “medical assistance in dying,” adopted in 2021, is “the most recent commentary from NHPCO.”

When asked about training, Katz recommended Repair contact the AAMC and Compassion & Choices, an organization that promotes MAID, saying they “may be able to offer expertise on the topic.”

The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine also declined to comment when contacted. Repair.

Charles Camosy, a professor of medical and human sciences at Creighton University School of Medicine, a private Catholic institution, said: Repair The reluctance of the medical community to talk about this issue is probably due to its “enormous controversy.”

He said disability rights activists have been very effective in “drawing medicine’s attention to its disability and eugenic past.”

“(A)lso because it’s quite clear that when killing one patient… becomes ‘health care,’ that term loses any meaning, and health care simply becomes a ‘Burger King,’ where every customer ‘gets in their own way,’ and the professional and vocational nature of medicine completely falls apart,” Camosy said. Repair in an email sent this week.

Advocacy groups, new medical assistance in dying academy offer training

Compassion & Choices, a leading MAID advocacy group in the U.S., provided answers to some questions Repair.

Spokesman Sean Crowley said the correct, accurate and proper term for this end-of-life care option is medical assistance in dying, not assisted suicide or euthanasia.

Such designations “demonize carefully considered legislation that allows qualified, mentally competent, terminally ill adults to obtain a prescription from a physician for medications they may choose to take to peacefully end their suffering when it becomes unbearable,” Crowley said in a recent email.

Others never take their medications but “feel great relief having them on hand when they need them,” he added.

When asked how doctors are trained in MAID, Crowley replied: Repair“Physicians are using numerous methods to learn how to provide medical assistance in dying to patients with incurable, terminal illnesses who want this option if their suffering at the end of life becomes unbearable, even with the best available hospice care.”

“Opportunities to learn about the practice of medicine include, but are not limited to, medical school curriculum, residency and fellowship programs, education provided at national conferences, mentoring with peers such as Compassion & Choices Doc2Doc resources, peer-reviewed journals, and resources for clinicians provided by professional organizations,” Crowley said. Repair through email.

One of the links is to a 2022 webinar offered by the California Academy of Family Physicians titled “Integrating Medical Assistance in Dying Curriculum into Resident Education.” The keynote presenter was Dr. Ryan Spielvogel, a family physician and faculty member at the Sutter Family Medicine Residency Program in Sacramento, California.

The 2023 National Clinical Physicians Conference on Medical Assistance to the Dying also offered a series of “Continuing Education Goals” for participating healthcare professionals, including nurses, physicians, and social workers.

These included “incorporating into practice the belief that aid in dying is about caring for patients and not about writing prescriptions, incorporating into practice the understanding that patients do not come to them asking for help in dying but rather are considering help in dying, and understanding that fatigue is a very common but rarely discussed reason why a patient decides to seek help in dying.”

Crowley from Compassion & Choices shared Repair The American Academy of Family Physicians also advocates for education about the practice. It said doctors affiliated with the academy are the ones “most likely to prescribe medical aid in dying to long-term patients.”

Additionally, the American Academy of Clinicians in Medical Assistance in Dying is a relatively new group that “grew out of the highly successful 2020 National Clinicians in Medical Assistance in Dying Conference at the University of California, Berkeley, and the 2023 National Clinicians in Medical Assistance in Dying Conference in Portland, Oregon,” according to its website.

Its mission is to “inform and educate physicians about medical assistance in dying,” including “clinical discussions,” “evidence-based knowledge,” “nursing care,” “medical ethics,” and “pharmacology.”

The academy did not respond to two emailed requests for comment. Repair.

Medical community doesn’t like oversight: professor

The lack of information and willingness to discuss this issue may also have something to do with the medical community avoiding oversight, said Camosy of Creighton University. Repair.

“There’s a very strong sense that no one who’s not a trained clinician should have any say in what clinicians do. … Trust the doctors, right? Everyone else, just back off. I’m not sure how they think they can get away with that in the wake of COVID, but that’s the way it is,” he said.

Camosy, a well-known Catholic bioethics author who frequently writes about health care, assisted suicide and euthanasia, said that “physician-assisted killing” also occurs “in secret.”

“While it is of course entirely legitimate to withhold life-sustaining treatment for a proportionately serious reason where the patient’s death is foreseeable but unintended, in such cases this often does not happen,” he said Repair.

“Often the goal is to kill the patient or to achieve a faster death. But it’s almost always done … quietly,” using terms like “palliative care” or “keeping the patient comfortable,” he said.

Camosy said Repair it doesn’t surprise him “that practices and approaches to (physician-assisted killing) would also be hidden from the public.”

“It’s not something the medical community is proud of, and it’s not something they want to subject themselves to any kind of public scrutiny or oversight,” he said.

Editor’s note: Deputy Editor Micaiah Bilger contributed to this report.

MORE: American Medical Association Still Opposes Assisted Suicide

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