B.C. man faced excruciating transfer after Catholic hospital refused assisted-death request

National Post

Tom Blackwell

Ian Shearer had had enough of the pain and wanted a quick, peaceful end, his life marred by multiple afflictions.

But the Vancouver man’s family says his last day alive became an excruciating ordeal after the Catholic-run hospital caring for him rebuffed his request for a doctor-assisted death, forcing him to transfer to another hospital.

The combination of the cross-town trip and inadequate pain control left Shearer, 84, in agony through most of his final hours, says daughter Jan Lackie.

“To hear him crying out, screaming … was just horrible,” said Lackie, breaking into tears as she recalled the day in late August. “That’s what keeps me from sleeping at night … I don’t want any other person to go through what he did.”

Shearer’s experience at St. Paul’s Hospital highlights one of the thorniest issues concerning assisted death: the decision of most faith-based —  but taxpayer-funded — health-care facilities to play no part in a practice made legal by the Supreme Court of Canada and federal legislation. . . [Full text]


One thought on “B.C. man faced excruciating transfer after Catholic hospital refused assisted-death request”

  1. In this case, the problem was caused by (a) the reduction of fentanyl prior to the scheduled transfer to ensure that the patient would be able to consent to euthanasia at Vancouver General Hospital, and (b) the unexpected late arrival of the ambulance (3 hours late), during which time the medication had worn off sufficiently to cause the terrible pain during the transfer. Since the timely arrival of ambulances cannot be ensured, the obvious way to prevent this kind of incident from happening again is to ensure that pain medication is not reduced prior to transfer. What is missing from this account is the identity of the person responsible for the reduction in fentanyl. Normally, such a change can only be made on as a result of a physician’s order. Since Dr. Ellen Wiebe lethally injected the patient, she must have taken over responsibility for the patient at some point prior to doing so. The newspaper account does not disclose whether or not she was also responsible for the reduction of the fentanyl (and the patient’s terrible pain), either as a convenience to Vancouver General Hospital or to herself (to minimize the time the patient would occupy a bed in the hospital and the time she might otherwise have to spend with the patient.)

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