February 06, 2015   | Posted in: College News

Statement from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia regarding the Supreme Court Ruling on physician-assisted death

Today’s decision by the Supreme Court of Canada on the issue of physician-assisted death will be carefully reviewed by the College to determine if any changes or modifications to existing professional standards or guidelines are required. The Court has suspended its declaration respecting the provisions of the Criminal Code for a period of one year in order to allow federal and provincial governments time to draft and consider any new legislative provisions.

The regulator’s role is to ensure that there is a balance between a patient’s right to make an informed decision and to access lawful services, and a physician’s right to hold values and beliefs which may require him/her to abstain from performing certain treatments or procedures.

The College’s current professional standard titled Access to Medical Care addresses this balance and states:

While physicians may make a personal choice not to provide a treatment or procedure based on their values and beliefs, the College expects them to provide patients with enough information and assistance to allow them to make informed choices for themselves. This includes advising patients that other physicians may be available to see them, or suggesting that the patient visit an alternate health-care provider. Where needed, physicians must offer assistance and must not abandon the patient.