March 5, 2024

Euthanasia doctor exonerated after death in Orthodox Jewish nursing home

Could have implications for other institutions

A Vancouver doctor who snuck into an Orthodox Jewish nursing home which forbids assisted death and euthanised a patient has been cleared of wrongdoing.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (CPSBC) declared that Dr Ellen Wiebe did not break the regulator’s rules when she helped 83-year-old Barry Hyman die inside the Louis Brier Home and Hospital on June 29, 2017.

“The committee determined that it was not critical of Dr. Wiebe’s provision of MAiD [Medical Aid in Dying] to the patient at Louis Brier, noting that the patient had consented and that Dr. Wiebe had met all requirements for provision of MAiD,” the college’s inquiry committee concluded.

The CPSBC’s finding could have important implications for nursing homes and hospitals which refused to allow euthanasia to take place on their premises after MAiD became legal in 2016 in Canada.

Cory Ruf, a spokesman for Dying with Dignity Canada, said the decision acknowledges that long-term care facilities are people’s homes. “Requiring a suffering person to leave their home in order to access assisted dying is unnecessary and wrong,” he told the Globe and Mail.

The nursing home contended that the euthanasia of one of its residents on its premises upset many others. “We have quite a number of Holocaust survivors in the building. This is a huge concern … as this came out, it created a very significant level of anxiety and chaos, specifically for those individuals,” said a spokesman.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge

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