This letter was written by the Canadian Palliative Sedation Therapy Guideline Working group in response to the comments by Dr. Gaetan Barrette, president of Quebec’s Federation des medecins specialistes, stating in reference to palliative sedation that euthanasia happens every day in Quebec.
The Canadian Palliative Sedation Therapy Guideline Working Group: Dr. Doreen Oneschuk, Palliative Medicine Physician, Grey Nuns Hospital, Associate Professor, University of Alberta; Dr. Victor Cellarius, Temmy Latner Center for Palliative Care, Mount Sinai Hospital, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto.
The letter to the editor stated:
Dr. Gaetan Barrette, president of Quebec’s Federation des medecins specialistes, is quoted as saying that euthanasia is already widely practised in [Quebec] through medicinal measures known as palliative sedation.
The Palliative Sedation working group responded to Barrette by stating:
Palliative sedation therapy, correctly practised, neither aims at death nor shortens life. Palliative sedation therapy is the use of a sedative medication to control severe and untreatable suffering at the end of life when other measures have been exhausted. It does not shorten life.
Palliative sedation does not require morphine or other opioids; is not used for every symptom; neither intends nor causes a hastened death. It is a last resort, when all other approaches have failed, to relieve suffering through the use of sedative medications.
To improve the knowledge and practice of practitioners, our group is in the process of developing national guidelines for palliative sedation therapy. We hope these guidelines will help prevent some of the misunderstandings regarding palliative sedation, especially the mistaken belief that palliative sedation is a form of euthanasia.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has always stated that the proper use of palliative sedation is not euthanasia. The fact is that the abuse of palliative sedation techniques can be euthanasia and if Barrett insists on comparing palliative sedation to euthanasia then he must really be saying that many Quebec physicians are abusing palliative sedation techniques.
Link to the letter in the National Post: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/09/13/todays-letters-dealing-with-the-final-chapter/#more-11429#ixzz0zR7wWMS2