Decision-making for the End of Life

Categories: Policy.

This policy sets out expectations for physicians with respect to providing medically and ethically appropriate care to patients at the end of life; specifically, care that aims to reduce suffering, respects the wishes and needs of patients and their families, and lessens conflict and distress.

View the current policy

To assist with this review, the College is inviting feedback from all stakeholders, including members of the medical profession, the public, health organizations and other health professionals on the current policy. Comments received during this preliminary consultation will assist the College in updating the policy. When a revised draft is developed, it will be recirculated for further comment before it is finalized by Council.

The College wants to hear your thoughts on the current policy…


Underlying all physician-patient interactions is the recognition that a patient’s needs are paramount. The provision of quality end of life care, in particular, requires that physicians address not only the physical needs of a patient, but also their psychological, social and spiritual needs. This policy sets out the professional and legal requirements that physicians must meet when caring for patients at the end of life and touches on compelling issues such as advance care planning, palliative care, certifying death at home, and the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. Many of these issues are receiving increased public attention as courts consider cases relating to end of life decision-making, governments turn their attention to these issues, and legislative changes are considered.

Have Your Say

The College would like to hear your thoughts on the current policy, along with suggestions you may have for how the policy could be improved.

In particular, they are interested to know:

    • Does the policy provide useful guidance?
    • Are there any issues not included in the current policy that should be addressed? If so, what are they?
    • Are there other ways in which the policy should be improved?

Please provide your feedback by November 22, 2013

Next Steps

The College is committed to ensuring that the Decision-making for the End of Life policy represents the expectations of the profession and is consistent with our mandate to protect the public. The feedback obtained during this preliminary consultation will be carefully reviewed by a Working Group of physician and public members of Council and will be used to evaluate the existing policy. While it may not be possible to ensure that every comment or suggested edit will be incorporated into the revised draft, all comments will be carefully considered in light of the College’s mandate to protect and serve the public interest.

Once a revised draft policy has been developed, stakeholders will be invited to review the revised policy and provide further feedback before the policy is considered for final approval by College Council.

To ensure transparency, the College will post all consultation feedback in accordance with our posting guidelines.

Your feedback is valued and thank you again for participating in our policy review process.

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