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Voluntary assisted dying fact sheet for nurses

In the lead-up to the introduction of voluntary assisted dying in Victoria on 19 June, a fact sheet for nurses has been released.

The Department of Health fact sheet outlines who is eligible for voluntary assisted dying, how nurses will be involved and what a nurse should do if someone asks them about voluntary assisted dying.

Under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 nurses are not allowed to administer voluntary assisted dying medications. They may receive requests for information about, or access to, voluntary assisted dying from patients and provide care to patients accessing voluntary assisted dying.

Under the Act, patients accessing voluntary assisted dying, administer the medications themselves. The law prohibits all health practitioners, including nurses, from raising voluntary assisted dying with, or suggesting it to, patients.

Nurses may provide patients with information about voluntary assisted dying if the patient raises the subject.

If a patient wants to access voluntary assisted dying, they must make their request to a doctor.

Health services must have systems and processes in place to manage requests information about or access to voluntary assisted dying, even if they will not be providing this service. While the Act was passed on 29 November 2017, the law allowed for an 18-month implementation period to allow time for health services to plan and prepare.

Nurses should be aware of who they should direct patient enquiries about voluntary assisted dying to within their health service.

Nurses are not obligated to participate in voluntary assisted dying and can conscientiously object to involvement. However, it is contrary to nurses’ professional standards to inhibit a person’s access to voluntary assisted dying as a lawful medical treatment.