Nurses Must Heed Assisted Suicide Requests by Clients

The Royal College has given a new advice: nurses should ignore the urge to brush off patients asking for help to die.

The recent RCN guidance When Someone Asks for Your Assistance to Die which was released today, states the plea ought to head to a conversation to set up the patient’s reasons and this can be achieved by assessing the patient’s needs in a non-judgmental way.

It does give the caution, however, that a patient asking for your assistance in particular on the subject of assisted suicide, it is vital that you recognize the plea and do not give in to the urge to not give the patient any attention or neglect the discussion.

Janet Davies, RCN executive director and service delivery claimed that it was vital to stress that this guidance does not mean that nurses should support the matter of assisted suicide with their patience, as this has continued to be illegal.

She did go on to say that there are some patients who discuss the matter of terminating their lives as an alternative method to convey concerns regarding their status or the amount of their pain. Nurses should not get the idea that by delving into these issues they are supporting or encouraging the patient to end their own life. Davies said such discussions could be the sole instance a patient shares their worries, and it is a crucial element of professional nursing practice to heed and discover issues with every single patient as much as possible.

There are few circumstances where a patient in Wales or England who has long been wishing to die can set up an “advance choice to say no to treatment”, the guidance clarified. This can range from advance rejection of clinically aided nutrition or hydration or even cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Yet it cautions that nurses providing contact information or websites for groups that offer support for assisted suicide are nurses who are doing something that is highly inappropriate and possibly illegal.

Additionally, it also tells nurses to not construe with relatives or friends out of the country to assisted suicide clinics. It mentioned that though you claim to be doing so as a relative or a friend, and not as a professional nurse, prosecuting authorities might see it in another light or interpret it the wrong way

In 2009, the director of public prosecutions guidelines said that a suspect has a higher chance to be put on trial for giving assistance to a suicide if they were doing so using their power as a health care professional during the time frame it was done.

Chief executive of the movement Dignity in Dying Sarah Wootton stated that there was substantial perplexity among healthcare professionals regarding what they are allowed and not allowed to perform within the existing law as well as due to DPP’s guidance. She went on to say that the RCN was heading the way among pertinent royal colleges as well as the British Medical Association with this guidance, and they hope that several other professional groups will take the same course of action.

Wootoon continued with saying that it is highly crucial that adults in their dying stages can talk about their choices as they reach the end of their life with medical experts, and it is this guidance that backs nurses to allow for this discussion with patients to take place, without giving any judgment nor advice on how to terminate their lives. Currently, according to her, the culture of secrecy on discussions regarding bigger options at the end of life should change.

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