Safeguards for GPs helping patients end their life

2 minute read

The legal framework for voluntary assisted dying has changed in some states this month, but further reforms are needed.

By the end of this month, voluntary assisted dying will be a lawful choice for eligible patients across Australia. 

However, for many GPs, this end-of-life option is surrounded with complexity and conundrums. 

In a two-part series The Tea Room explores the legislation, support network and personal experience of doctors engaged in voluntary assisted dying (VAD)

This episode we have a cuppa with Casey Haining, research fellow in the Australian Centre for Health Law Research, at Queensland University of Technology. She shares the recent changes in legislation.  

Ms Haining says that a “particularly prominent legal concern” for many doctors is breaching the Commonwealth Criminal Code by talking about voluntary assisted dying through a carriage service. 

“Because of this Commonwealth law there is a bit of hesitation around talking or conducting aspects of the voluntary dying process via telehealth. It is a grey area in terms of the interpretation and different states have interpreted it quite differently,” she says. 

Ms Haining encourages GPs to access the Centre for Health Law Research website  that provides jurisdiction specific information and provides an overview on other aspects of end-of-life law. 

Medicare also needs to adapt to the new legislation, Ms Haining said. The MBS currently only provides patient rebates for consultations for VAD eligibility. There is no rebate for the actual administration. 

“VAD is not a quick process and it takes a lot of time for practitioners. Because this is going to be a lawful choice across juridictions the MBS needs to ensure that people who are dedicating themselves and electing to provide this lawful service are compensated adequately,” she said. 

You can listen and subscribe to the show by searching for “The Tea Room Medical Republic” in your favourite podcast player.

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