Assisted dying: the difficult conversation we need to have

Assisted dying: the difficult conversation we need to have

Health care and social assistance is Australia’s biggest industry, accounting for almost 13 per cent of all jobs. Photo: Nic Walker

I am a medical specialist with advanced cancer. In a career begun more than 35 years ago, I have seen death in all its guises: in homes, at the roadside, in the emergency department, intensive care, operating theatres and on hospital wards. There has been no age limit on these experiences. I have gently taken a dead child from a mother after she travelled for an hour with him cradled in her arms following a farm accident. I have watched the slow, inexorable deterioration of ICU patients with multiple organ failure because of myriad causes. Inevitably, because it is the lot of a doctor whose practice has been predominantly hospital-based, I have also been present at countless attempts at resuscitation from cardiac arrest, the vast preponderance of which were unsuccessful – perhaps surprising news for regular viewers of medi-drama.

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