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New standards now in effect for nurses’ role in MAiD

posted June 10, 2016

Today, the CRNBC Board approved and put into immediate effect standards, limits and conditions for registered nurses (RNs), including nurse practitioners (NPs), who decide to aid in the provision of medical assistance in dying (MAiD).

The Board also approved and put into immediate effect related revisions to the Duty to Provide Care practice standard. The changes to the Duty to Provide Care practice standard include minor rewording and the addition of two principles that address the responsibilities and accountabilities for nurses who have a conscientious objection to providing aspects of care.

Although nurses are not required to aid in the provision of medical assistance in dying, they are responsible to work with their organizations to ensure uninterrupted continuity of care for clients who are requesting medical assistance in dying.

Criminal Justice Branch guidelines

As noted in our June 9, 2016 announcement, the Criminal Justice Branch of the Ministry of Justice has provided guidelines to prosecutors that significantly reduce the risk of prosecution for nurses aiding in the provision of medical assistance in dying, when provided under the requirements of the Carter decision.

Bill C-14, which will change the Criminal Code to expressly exempt nurses and others who aid in the provision of MAiD, continues to be under deliberation by Parliament. As the legislative changes are not yet in force, nurses still need to make their own measured and informed decisions about whether to aid in the provision of MAiD. CRNBC encourages nurses who are approached to participate in MAiD to seek an independent legal opinion regarding their specific situation and to contact the Canadian Nurses Protective Society.

Nurse practitioner role 

Until the Bill C-14 changes are in force, nurse practitioners must not provide medical assistance in dying. Nurse practitioners approached about MAiD are limited to the role of aiding in the provision of medical assistance in dying, and must follow the standards, limits and conditions for medical assistance in dying for registered nurses. In anticipation of Bill C-14 passing, CRNBC is currently preparing standards, limits and conditions that will apply for NPs providing MAiD.

Nurses are reminded they must also follow all employer policies and procedures related to medical assistance in dying.

Questions?

Please email practice@crnbc.ca if you have questions or concerns.

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