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Frequently Asked Questions

A patient can speak to any member of their health care team to know more about MAID. This person might be someone who the patient is comfortable with and trusts. It may be the patient’s nurse, doctor, social worker, spiritual care provider or other member of the team. To receive MAID, a patient must get a referral from their doctor.

All hospital staff must respond to questions about MAID in a respectful way. Doctors who are uncomfortable with MAID will refer their patients to other doctors who can help with next steps.

If a patient does not feel at ease talking to members of their health care team about MAID they can request a confidential consultation (private meeting) with a member of the Bioethics team. This can be done by calling the Director of Bioethics at 416 340 4800 x 8607. A bioethicist is someone who supports patients and family members dealing with ethical issues in a patient’s care.

All MAID services and medications are covered by Ontario health insurance (OHIP). Insurance companies have agreed not to withhold insurance benefits for deaths due to MAID. The Coroner’s Office will work with families on insurance claims.

  • A patient’s decision to have MAID must be their own.
  • A patient must be assessed by two separate doctors or nurse practitioners to make sure that they meet the eligibility criteria.
  • The health care team will take measures (such as having interpreters available) to ensure the patient can understand the information and communicate their decision.
  • Patients must sign a formal written request in front of two separate witnesses. The witnesses usually cannot be family members or health care providers.
  • There is a mandatory waiting period between the time of the patient’s request and the day that MAID is provided.
  • Patients can withdraw their requests at any time.
  • Just before receiving MAID, the patient must be able to provide informed consent.

Only doctors and nurse practitioners are legally authorized to assess whether a patient meets the criteria. You will be assessed by two or more doctors or nurse practitioners. They will have to agree that you meet the criteria. If one of the people assessing you feels you do not meet the criteria, you can ask to be assessed by another doctor or nurse practitioner.

Patients choose when to stop treatment or when not to start treatment. These decisions, like assisted dying, are the personal decisions of each patient. Patients base these decisions on their values, beliefs and health care goals.

The key difference is the intent of the decision. Patients who choose to stop treatment or not to start treatment intend to avoid treatment that will not provide a benefit or that is too difficult. Their intent is not necessarily to bring about their own death. If death happens, the cause of death will be their disease. With assisted dying, the patient’s death is intended. The cause of death is the medication given to the patient.

No, you do not have to undergo any treatment, such as chemotherapy or surgery, you find unacceptable. The Supreme Court wrote that irremediable: “… does not require the patient to undertake treatments that are not acceptable to the individual.”

If you meet the criteria, this is a personal decision based on your values, beliefs and health care goals. You determine what is right or wrong for you.

It is usually a good idea to try to involve your family – getting medical assistance in dying may have a major impact on them. If it is difficult to talk with your family for any reason, you can ask for help from your health care team, such as social workers, spiritual care providers, occupational therapists or others.

Any medical doctor (physician) or nurse practitioner (licensed in the province) can provide assisted dying, if you meet the eligibility criteria and they feel capable and prepared to provide assisted dying.

Please note: Within UHN, only medical doctors can administer assisted dying.

No, only you can make the decision to request and receive assisted dying. If you are not capable, others cannot make the decision for you.

No, you must be able to ask for assisted dying at the time you wish to receive it. You cannot write your wishes for assisted dying in an advance care plan, such as a living will.

Yes, you can change your mind at any time, for any reason. Simply tell a member of your health care team. If you change your mind, you will continue to receive high quality care. No one will think any less of you if you change your mind.

Health care team members will ask you several times if you still wish to receive assisted dying or have changed your mind.

*From Hamilton Health Services Patient Education “Medical Assistance In Dying – FAQ from Patients and Families".

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