This is Assisted Dying 

This is Assisted Dying: A Doctor’s Story of Empowering Patients at the End of Life                      by Dr. Stefanie Green   Reviewed by Berta Winiker

I am a former medical librarian and now work at the John G. McCullough Library in North Bennington. After reading a short description of This is Assisted Dying: A Doctor’s Story of Empowering Patients at the End of Life by Dr, Stefanie Greene, I recommend  it for our collection. Once I took it home to read, I felt a bit skittish about reading it at first.  I quickly overcame my hesitancy as the topic was handled so skillfully by the author.

Written by a Canadian Doctor, this book is a memoir of her transition from maternity care to assisting patients who are suffering from an irremediable condition. Dr. Stefanie Green covers how assisted dying works from application process, determination of eligibility, to the procedure itself. She compassionately addresses the wishes/preferences/needs of her patient for their final event from timing, setting, music.

The book is rich in detailing the characteristics of scenarios she encounters in home environments as well as hospice and hospital settings. Throughout the memoir the reader encounters patients dying from various causes, from cancer, cardiovascular, to respiratory and neurological. From initial interview with the patient, securing consent, and the administration of drugs, the reader is afforded an authentic and emotional perspective of the trajectory. Patient voices are compelling as well as the individual dynamics of the patient and the support network.

While the book prominently features the humanitarian aspect of empowering dying individuals, Dr. Green details her path as a pioneer in the field. No official training existed at that time (2016) and much foundation work was needed to legitimize and assure professional integrity.

In my opinion it bears watching the Canadian experience with assisted dying to inform decision-making in the United States. Dr. Green’s expertise now has earned her the position of cofounder and current president of the Canadian Association of MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying) Assessors and Providers.

A recent Google search on the subject confirmed that Act 39 and are two resources for further information. While Vermont was recognized in 2016 as offering some form of assisted dying, it is my understanding that it is not widely available.


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