Monday, February 11, 2019

Dr Will Johnston: It has become too easy to end patients' lives.

Dr Will Johnston responded to the article by Dr Sandy Buchman in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) titled: Why I decided to provide assisted dying. Buchman claims that Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), better known as euthanasia, is patient centred care.

Will Johnston's response was published in the BMJ on February 8.
As an ordinary Canadian family physician, I have seen a different side of the new ‘Medical Aid in Dying’ regime Dr. Sandy Buchman glowingly describes. The scheme was sold to us and the public as a rare matter of assisting the suicide of extreme terminal illness cases. By a year into it, hundreds (now thousands) had died and over 99% of the deaths were not by self-administration, but intravenously by doctors and nurses. The Canadian euthanasia death rate has continued to escalate, while funding for palliative care services has fallen in several provinces.

The wide eligibility criteria do not require any estimate of prognosis. Yet there is already intense social pressure to widen them further to include euthanasia of children, the healthy disabled, cognitively impaired, and mentally ill.

Ending life has been re-defined as ‘part of care’. An Ontario court ruling has confirmed that doctors who want nothing to do with euthanasia have to get involved by making an “effective referral”.

Few Canada doctors foresaw that “going neutral” would guarantee the arrival of euthanasia, or that promises of a shot in the arm for palliative care would be forgotten. Even fewer realised they would have no option but cooperate with providing death on demand.

It has become all too easy to end patients’ lives. Learn from our mistakes. 
Williard P Johnston
Clinical Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia, Department of Family Practice. Vancouver BC
Links to a few stories of the failed experiment with euthanasia in Canada.


Voice of Gone Ballistic said...

When should a doctor put on a DNR.
When should a patient put on a DNR.

Nancy said...

Thank you so much for showing your LOVE beyond Valentine's Day, dear Dr. Johnston ! You deserve much love too! Thou Shall Not Kill People!

NJ said...

I am nothing short of staggered by some of the claims and obviously embellished stories displayed on this blog page in the efforts to undermine the euthanasia laws! Since when did posting stories from a one-sided perspective hold any water?

Personally, I arrive at this blog having been disgusted by Dr Will Johnston's opinions - as seen in a documentary following the legalisation of euthanasia in Canada. I honestly don't think anybody has the right to tell others / suggest to individuals that they should be forced to tolerate their suffering on the basis that others with the same/similar condition have tolerated it well. This, to me, seemed to be the very crux of what the 'good' doctor was suggesting in the documentary! The only person who genuinely knows when, through physical suffering, life has become intolerable, is the individual who is enduring the suffering! Just because that individual may also be disabled, does not render their opinion and knowledge of what is or is not tolerable to them invalid. Nor, by the way, does being disabled automatically render an individual more vulnerable to persuasion than those who are able-bodied. I speak as a disabled individual whose intellect, and strength of character are both very strong!

Dr Johnston spoke at how the medical profession can remove suffering, particularly at the end of life, without euthanasia. I would urge him to read The Inescapable Truth, by Dignity in Dying UK For even ONE person to suffer like this is nothing short of criminal in my opinion, and all too often, the medical profession try to convince us that palliative care will lead to a comfortable, peaceful death. We have all heard stories of where this is clearly not the case!

I congratulate Canada on passing the law to allow MAID - it is one of the most humane laws worldwide and I only wish we could get similar legislation passed here in the UK.

For me personally, I would welcome a law that is not limited to only those who have a terminal illness (usually defined as a prognosis of 6 months or less). There are many illnesses that cause severe, widespread and constant pain - that, despite the best efforts of the medical profession, is not alleviated by medication; and where there is no threat to life. I suffer from severe M.E./CFS, a condition I have suffered with for 10 years and is getting steadily worse. Not only am I in such pain that I can't even sleep for longer than an hour/ can't remain in one position for more than a couple of minutes without it feeling as though I am being tortured, but there are a multitude of other, equally intolerable symptoms too! Having been through high-dose chemotherapy for Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma, I can honestly say that I would prefer to face cancer again, together with the side effects of treatment, than to endure M.E. Of course, the medical profession is still somewhat on the fence about M.E. - so physicians like Dr Johnston would most likely dismiss my suffering and have me 'live' out the next 3-4 decades in bed in a darkened room. In reply, I would tell such physicians (and other people on their moral high ground) to break 6 bones in their body (including in the legs) and then take a walk down the street - this might give you some small indication of the pain I am in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

NJ said...


Unfortunately, I don't see such humane laws being passed here in the UK within the next decade, so will most likely have no option but to die from my own hand. Rather than being helped to die with family around me, and at a time of my choosing - I, like so many others will most likely die alone when it becomes too much to bear. Not only would this not be my preferred choice, but it will be undoubtable more traumatic for the family I leave behind.

Please remember, it is very easy to take the moral high ground when it is not you who are living a life of unending and prolonged suffering. As many have said before me, I would like to die like a dog. That is, quickly and with dignity, to end intolerable suffering.

Nancy said...

Dear NJ,
Thank you for writing. Whatever Dr. Johnston or I have said I believe was not with the intention of wishing continued suffering for you or others. But, I believe there are better ways to seek healing than euthanasia. I don't believe in eternal hell for any individual, or any totally negative being. We could not blink an eye or take a breath without the presence of our loving Creator. But despite any differences I may have with others, there are people showing examples of the huge number of miracles occurring these days. You might like to check out "Alph Lukau" & "Curry Blake" on youtube, & the Healing Rooms near you. In Peace & Love for Valentine's & always!