Prof Maddocks: Palliative care and VAD
By Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks, an eminent Australian palliative care specialist and Senior Australian of the Year in 2013.
Experience from countries that have legalised VAD suggests that requests for VAD for those who have major suffering in terminal illness will be few in number. Palliative care will continue to carry the greater responsibility to provide relief for those patients, and the demand on its services will continue to increase. VAD should seek to place itself alongside palliative care and learn from it. It may bring the doctor who approves a request for VAD an engagement with patient and family in far more than the assessment of a request and the writing of a lethal prescription. It may encourage the offer of a continuing medical presence willing to attend at the time a dose is taken, and to monitor later bereavement support for the family. That would be the way of palliative care.