Euthanasia for hip fractures in Québec

By Australian Care Alliance

Three people were euthanased in Quebec between April 2018 and March 2019 for a hip fracture. This is just one of the warnings about where legalisation of euthanasia leads that can be drawn from the latest report on euthanasia in Quebec. *

Euthanasia in that Canadian province now accounts for nearly one out of fifty deaths (1.9%) with significantly higher rates in some health regions including the capital (3.38%) and Bas-Saint-Laurent (3.45%).

Canadian law requires “at least 10 clear days between the day on which the request was signed by the person and the day on which” euthanasia is provided unless “the person’s death, or the loss of their capacity to provide informed consent, is imminent” and the Quebec law requires the physician to verify “the persistence of suffering and that the wish to obtain” euthanasia “remains unchanged. But by talking with the patient at reasonably spaced intervals given the progress of the patient’s condition, in a massive 40% of cases euthanasia was performed less than 10 days after a request was first made.

Only 11% of people euthanased had a prognosis of less than 2 weeks to live.

If the remaining cases involved an imminent loss of capacity, this raises real questions about the validity of the original request. If a person is assessed on the verge of losing capacity what degree of certainty can there be that the person currently has full capacity?

The report notes that there is a tendency to refer applications for euthanasia to certain family physicians who consent to administer euthanasia to people, even if they do not know them. These doctors administer a large number of euthanasia cases each year, with 43 doctors performing euthanasia on 10 or more people each in the reporting period (April 2018 to March 2019).

*Québec – 1331 reported euthanasia deaths (April 1, 2018 – March 31, 2019) At least 13 deaths did not comply with the law.