To induce asystole as needed

Michael Gritti is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of Toronto



“To induce asystole as needed.”
Looking the decision in the face
wasn't as simple as I'd thought, I conceded.
But, simply, was it right? Was it just?

Eighty millimoles of potassium chloride:
in five minutes it was all over.
I tried to hide my emotions,
but I was uneasy about today’s decision.

When? Where? Who was to be around?
What time of day?
“Morning will be better,” she said.
“You won't have to wait and think about decay.”

I nodded, normalizing. I'd be on the team;
the team that would catch him before death,
as that is what he wanted.
At least he maid his own choice.

Rereading the preformed order set:
“To induce asystole as needed.”
I stared. Thought to myself,
trying to define as needed.

Uneasy. Unsure. Unsettled.
But it was right, right? His fate?
Laid to rest by his own choice.
This was definitely no ethics debate…

One thought on “To induce asystole as needed

  1. Gordon Friesen

    A short note for doctors (and becoming doctors) who worry about their possible involvement with MAID:

    First of all, the law guarantees that no one is compelled to participate.

    Secondly, what is the quantitative “norm” ?

    The Netherlands and the neighboring Flanders region of Belgium have the world’s highest rates of euthanasia at 4 % of all deaths. The practice has been legal and widely promoted, there, for approximately 15 years. It is reasonable to assume that the participation rate has reached a plateau in that period and that Canadian rates will also stabilize at some similar level.

    The highest rate (in the countries referenced) is among cancer patients. However, even in this sub-group 87 % of patients refuse the euthanasia option. In other words, the typical patient does not ask for MAID regardless of his or her situation.

    There is, therefore, a good argument to be made that “normal” ie typical, medical practice need not include MAID. The practice is controversial. It is legal, true, but it also has an undetermined ethical status. Some people want to do it. Some people do not. Some people believe it is legitimate medicine. Others do not.

    It is obvious that there will be PTSD problems associated with the practice.

    It would then seem reasonable, that the typical doctor should feel totally comfortable with his or her decision to avoid MAID, for any reason, or for no reason at all.

    After all, there is no quantitative reason why large numbers of doctors should be involved in servicing this minute group of patients.

    A small number of specially certified doctors, comfortable and committed to this controversial practice, would amply suffice.

    In particular, there is no reason why aspiring students should buy into the idea that effectively killing someone, on demand, has become a required rite of passage in becoming a physician.



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