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Prof. Ian Maddocks

Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks is an eminent palliative care specialist and Senior Australian of the Year 2013.

In an online article for MJA InSight, he advocated for more open debate on assisted dying law within the medical profession. In response some doctors stated helping patients die would erode trust in the medical profession.

Submitted by 'semi retired doc' on Tue, 24/11/2015 - 9:13:

There is little discussion in the euthanasia debate about who administers or provides the means to end life. If you provide the patient with the means to end their life then, as their doctor, it is ethically no different to administering it yourself, although it may protect you legally. Once we start this process we are going to lose a fundamental trust from the community in the medical profession that will be almost impossible to regain.

This was Professor Maddocks’ reply on Wed, 25/11/2015 - 9:04:

Dear semi-retired one, I do not fear an erosion of trust if assisting dying under clearly defined circumstances is decriminalised; rather it might increase patient trust. I think of two instances where single aged female patients with terminal cancer died suddenly and unexpectedly at home. I felt sure that they had taken accumulated analgesia/sedatives.

My regret was that they had not been able to share the decision to do that with me, and I was not able to be there to ensure that no disaster of half-death occurred. When I can sit with patient and family through the last hours it is a moving and very comfortable experience for all. These women had to deny that opportunity for themselves, their loved ones and me.

Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks, first published in The Damage Done, August 2016


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