Background: The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) recently rendered a decision striking down the Criminal Code absolute prohibition on providing assisted dying. End of life decisions are commonly encountered by neurosurgeons due to the nature of their practice. Neurosurgeons will be faced with patients requesting PAD in the near future. Methods: The recent SCC ruling heralds a change that will radically alter a most basic tenet that has historically guided physicians and surgeons. A subcommittee of the Canadian Neurosurgical Society (CNSS) was formed to generate a position statement to reflect the interests of both neurosurgeons and their patients. Results: Fundamental issues regarding the implementation of PAD identified include:
Clarity of legislation
The creation of an independent, third party referral service
Effective safeguards and oversight of the entire process
-The right to “conscientious objection” on the part of hysicians who do not wish to be involved in PAD
Conclusions: The CNSS urges clarity in legislation regarding PAD and strict oversight in its implementation to reduce potential harm. We also support the creation of an independent, third party referral service which would serve to respect the conscience of those health care providers who do not wish to actively participate in PAD.