The following press release is from the Massachusetts Medical Society.
WALTHAM – At its Interim Meeting Dec. 1 and Dec. 2, the Massachusetts Medical Society’s House of Delegates adopted into policy several resolutions, including those involving medical aid-in-dying, medical parole for the terminally ill, recommended naloxone training for Massachusetts health professionals, and insurance coverage for contraceptive procedures.
The House of Delegates, the organization’s governing body, considered resolutions brought forth by physician-members. Resolutions that were accepted by the House of Delegates are now organizational policy.
The Massachusetts Medical Society rescinded its longstanding opposition to physician assisted suicide, or the act of a physician writing a prescription for a lethal dose of medication to be used by an adult with a terminal illness at such time as the patient sees fit.
Instead, the Medical Society adopted the position of neutral engagement, which allows the organization to serve as a medical and scientific resource as part of legislative efforts that will support shared decision making between terminally ill patients and their trusted physicians.
The organization asserted that physicians should not be required to practice medical aid-in-dying that involves the prescribing of lethal doses of medication if it violates personally held ethical principles, and that medical aid-in-dying should be practiced only by a duly licensed physician in conformance with standards of good medical practice and statutory and/or legal authority. If medical aid-in-dying is legalized, the MMS will support its members with clinical and legal considerations through education, advocacy and other resources, regardless of whether the member physician chooses to practice medical aid-in-dying.
The House of Delegates also emphasized the importance of effective palliative care, especially at the end of life.
Part of the House of Delegates’ discussion on the matter included the results of a survey conducted by the Massachusetts Medical Society that asked its members to share anonymously their views on medical aid-in-dying/physician-assisted-suicide.
Other resolutions adopted into Massachusetts Medical Society organizational policy include:
The Interim Meeting also included a continuing medical education component for attendees. Harvard medical School Professor Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD, gave an oration entitled “Traumatic Brain Injury, Concussion and American Football.