Shannon McClendon, 301-628-5391
Joan Hurwitz, 301-628-5020
SILVER SPRING, MD – The American Nurses Association (ANA) approved a new position statement entitled The Nurse’s Role When a Patient Requests Medical Aid in Dying at the association’s annual Membership Assembly in Washington, D.C. on June 22.
While nurses are still ethically prohibited from administering aid-in-dying medication, ANA now advises nurses to remain objective when patients are exploring this end-of-life option. Nurses have an ethical duty to be knowledgeable about this evolving issue and have the right to conscientiously object to being involved in the aid-in-dying process.
This is a step in a new direction for ANA and provides guidance for almost 1 million registered nurses in the U.S. who practice in the nine jurisdictions where medical aid in dying (MAID) is legal. MAID, also referred to as “physician assisted suicide” or “death with dignity,” allows terminally ill patients with a life expectancy of no more than six months to request medication from a licensed physician that is prescribed to hasten death. MAID is not equivalent to euthanasia, which occurs when someone other than the patient administers medication with the intention of hastening death. Euthanasia is illegal in the U.S. and inconsistent with the core commitments of the nursing profession.
ANA does not support or oppose current laws, nor does the position statement illustrate every scenario that a nurse may encounter. The intent is to address the growing ethical questions and challenges that nurses face when responding to a patient’s request for MAID. Read the full position statement here.
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The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation's 4 million registered nurses. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all. For more information, visit www.nursingworld.org.
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