The BCCNM board on June 30, 2022, approved revised standard, limits, and conditions for LPNs, NPs, RNs, and RPNs relating to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). These revised standards, limits, and conditions make permanent changes that were made during the COVID-19 public health emergency, and support equitable access to MAiD across B.C.
These changes take effect immediately.
Please note the changes are different for each designation:
To allow the two required, independent eligibility assessments to be conducted virtually with video of sufficient quality. (Prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency, only one assessment could be conducted virtually.)
To require a regulated health professional to act as a witness to a virtual assessment but only if reasonably available.
To allow an assessor-prescriber to ask another nurse practitioner, physician, pharmacist, licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, or registered psychiatric nurse to return unused MAiD substances to a pharmacy on behalf of the assessor-prescriber.
The rationale in 2020 for allowing virtual eligibility assessments was to ensure assessors were not unnecessarily exposing themselves to COVID-19. Over the course of the pandemic, the Provincial MAiD Operational Committee reported that this change improved access to MAiD in rural and remote communities as well as communities with a lack of MAiD assessors and assessor-prescribers.
With respect to requiring a regulated health professional as a witness to a virtual assessment, the health authorities expressed concerns about the regular availability of a regulated health professional in rural and remote settings. Therefore, a witness to the virtual assessment was not required if one was not reasonably available.
Lastly, with respect to the return of unused MAiD substances, the issue was logistical. In many rural and remote communities, MAiD assessor-prescribers fly in from more populous centres, but pharmacies in those communities may be a significant distance away or have limited hours. MAiD assessor-prescribers reported that by the time a MAiD procedure was completed, the pharmacy was potentially closed and the assessor-prescriber was required to remain in the community for multiple days until the unused substances could be returned. By allowing the assessor-prescriber to request another regulated health professional return the unused substances, the need for the assessor-prescriber to remain in the community is lessened.