Project Logo

Protection of Conscience Project

www.consciencelaws.org

Service, not Servitude

Policy Positions

Yukon Medical Council (Canada)

Freedom of conscience and religion

Annotated Extracts and Links


Moral or Religious Beliefs Affecting Medical Care
[Full Text]

(1) A physician must communicate clearly and promptly about any treatments or procedures the physician chooses not to provide because of his or her moral or religious beliefs.

(2) A physician must not withhold information about the existence of a procedure or treatment because providing that procedure or giving advice about it conflicts with their moral or religious beliefs.

(3) A physician must not promote their own moral or religious beliefs when interacting with patients.

(4) When moral or religious beliefs prevent a physician from providing or offering access to information about a legally available medical or surgical treatment or service, that physician must ensure that the patient who seeks such advice or medical care is offered timely access to another physician or resource that will provide accurate information about all available medical options.

  • Terms used in the Standards of Practice:
    •  "Physician" means any person who is registered or who is required to be registered under the Medical Profession Act.
    •  "Must" refers to a mandatory requirement.
    •  "May" means that the physician may exercise reasonable discretion.
    •  "Patient" includes, where applicable, the patient’s legal guardian or substitute decision maker.
Project Annotations

The policy recognizes an important distinction between providing information and providing or facilitating a morally contested service or procedure.

Physicians are expected to provide information necessary to satisfy the requirements of informed medical decision making, such as prognosis, the treatments or procedures available, benefits and burdens of treatment, risks, etc.  Only if a physician is unwilling to provide this information is an offer of "timely access" to another physician or resource required.  Offering timely access may be achieved in various ways.


Physician Assisted Dying: Advice to the Profession (10 June, 2016)
[Full Text]

16. Conscientious objection – Physicians may decline to provide PAD if doing so would violate their freedom of conscience. Paragraph 132 of the Carter decision says "In our view, nothing in the declaration of invalidity which we propose to issue would compel physicians to provide assistance in dying," and further "we underline that the Charter rights of patients and physicians will need to be reconciled." Conscientious objection is addressed in the YMC standard of practice Moral Beliefs Affecting Medical Care.

A physician who declines to provide PAD must not abandon a patient who makes this request; the physician has a duty to treat the patient with dignity and respect. The physician is expected to provide sufficient information and resources to enable the patient to make his/her own informed choice and access all options for care, even if providing such information conflicts with the physician’s deeply held and considered moral or religious beliefs. This currently means* arranging timely access to another physician or resource that will provide accurate information about all available medical options.

Physicians must not provide false, misleading, intentionally confusing, coercive or materially incomplete information, and the physician’s communication and behaviour must not be demeaning to the patient or to the patient’s beliefs, lifestyle choices or values.  The obligation to inform patients may be met by delegating this communication to another competent individual for whom the physician is responsible.

17.  Complaints arising – If a PAD-related complaint is submitted to the YMC, the YMC will manage the complaint as it does all complaints, with a focus on ensuring appropriate patient care, fairness and improving medical practice. In the experience of the YMC, inadequate communication is the root of most complaints. Whether participating in, providing or conscientiously declining to provide PAD, physicians should take extra care to ensure communication and documentation of these discussions is optimal.

18.  Challenges of allied health professionals – The YMC recognizes PAD will touch other healthcare professionals. . . . Physicians need to be sensitive to the impact of PAD on other members of the healthcare team, including their concerns about legal liability. . . .As with physicians, other members of the healthcare team may have moral or religious objections when a patient seeks PAD.

Project Annotations

The policy recognizes an important distinction between providing information and providing or facilitating a morally contested service or procedure.

Physicians are expected to provide information necessary to satisfy the requirements of informed medical decision making, such as prognosis, the treatments or procedures available, benefits and burdens of treatment, risks, etc.  Only if a physician is unwilling to provide this information is "arranging timely access" to another physician or resource required.  The purpose of arranging timely access in this situation is to ensure that the patient has information needed for decision-making.  "Arranging timely access" may be understood in various ways.

 

 

 

 

Print Friendly and PDF