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N.S. puts temporary hold on medically assisted dying referrals due to ‘significant backlog’

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WATCH: Nova Scotia faces challenges keeping up with medically assisted dying – Oct 3, 2021

Nova Scotia Health is placing a 30-day hold on referrals for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) because increased demand has created a “significant backlog.”

According to Nova Scotia Health, the program has already exceeded the total number of referrals received in 2020.

“It is our priority to focus on those who are currently waiting to support them through the process. It is important that we are transparent about our situation and the potential for extended wait times,” Dr. Gord Gubitz, the clinical lead for MAID, said in a news release.

“We know that awaiting a MAID assessment or procedure can be a source of increased distress and anxiety for patients, their families, and others who provide support to them, and we want to minimize this as much as possible.”

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MAID was made legal in Canada in June 2016, when federal legislation was passed that allows eligible Canadian adults to request the process.

To be eligible, people must be at least 18, have a “grievous and irremediable medical condition,” make a voluntary request and give informed consent.

During Nova Scotia’s temporary hold, the MAID Access and Resource Team will work to shorten wait times and resume referrals “as quickly as possible,” said the release.

Nova Scotia Health will also hire a full-time nurse practitioner to help support this work.

Gubitz goes on to say in the release that if any medical doctors or nurse practitioners who might have temporary or ongoing capacity to become involved in the MAID process should reach out to the team at 902-454-0379.

“We can provide training and support, and we need you now more than ever,” he said.

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