Death is anything but standard - Response to: Quebec issues standard euthanasia kits

The following letter was published in the Montreal Gazette on September 1, 2015. 

Re: “Quebec doctors to get euthanasia kits” (Montreal Gazette, Sept. 1)

For a sick patient nearing the end of life, intravenous insertion can be incredibly traumatic and difficult. While it is refreshing to see that Quebec is taking a proactive role in trying to ease a patient’s suffering, creating a “standardized” euthanasia kit that relies solely on IV access is like treating the patient like a parcel in the mail and not like a human being.

Many patients do not want to be stabbed with a needle when they are well, let alone when they are dying. The process of finding a suitable vein on a sick patient that will not collapse as a catheter is thread into it is not easy, often takes one or more attempts, and frankly, is sometimes impossible.

Combine that with the fact that this vein, assuming it is accessible, must then accommodate three different drugs, some of them “thick,” and what doctors will face will be “blown” veins and a patient who is suffering as they die, having to endure poke after poke with a needle. Provisions should be put in place. What if IV insertion is not possible? How many times should a patient be stabbed with a needle? Who should be attempting to insert the IV?

Standardizing the process of euthanasia sets a dangerous precedent as it assumes patients fit a mould that can be satisfied with a lawmaker’s bill. Having seen the process of death up close, it is everything but standard. Human beings are precious because we are not all the same and to assume otherwise might only create a painful death for patients when that is surely not what Bill 52 had in mind.

Nathan Friedland, Roxboro QC