Palliative service criticised over failure to verify deaths

The palliative care service has openly conscientiously objected to participating in euthanasia (Bigstock)

A Victorian palliative care organisation has come under criticism for refusing to verify the deaths of patients who have died at home under the state’s euthanasia laws. Source: The Age.

Since the laws came into effect in June 2019, 224 Victorians suffering a terminal illness have died using a government-endorsed lethal medication.

But in one case, police had to be called to verify the death of a man in December, who obtained a permit before drinking approved lethal medication at his home.

The man was a patient of Eastern Palliative Care, a not-for-profit organisation affiliated with the Order of Malta and St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. Staff who had cared for him were not permitted by the service to attend his home when he died or to verify his death afterwards.

Eastern Palliative Care has openly conscientiously objected to participating in euthanasia under the state law.

Melbourne oncologist Cameron McLaren said the health service was within its rights not to participate in euthanasia but its refusal to verify deaths afterwards was “discriminating against patients who had chosen a lawful way to die”.

In a statement, Eastern Palliative Care said it was a “misconception” among some health professionals that nurses should verify the death of patients who end their life through euthanasia.

The statement said nurses exercise their legal right to conscientiously object to all aspects of euthanasia, including verification of death, with full support of the organisation.


‘Discriminatory and unethical’: palliative care service criticised over failure to verify euthanasia deaths (By Melissa Cunningham, The Age)

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