MONTREAL – Quebec’s College of Physicians has issued an ethics bulletin to its members after learning that some doctors were allowing suicide victims to die when life-saving treatment was available.
The bulletin says the college learned last fall that, “in some Quebec hospitals, some people who had attempted to end their lives through poisoning were not resuscitated when, in the opinion of certain experts, a treatment spread out over a few days could have saved them with no, or almost no, aftereffects.”
It goes on to spell out a physician’s ethical and legal duty to provide care, even to patients seeking to end their own lives.
Yves Robert, the college’s secretary, told the National Post that an unspecified number of doctors were interpreting suicide attempts as an implicit refusal of treatment. They “refused to provide the antidote that could have saved a life. This was the real ethical issue,” he said. . . [Full text]