Dr. Jay Detsky, MD PhD, is a resident physician in radiation oncology at the University of Toronto. He practises out of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Hospital.
He received his engineering degree from the University of Waterloo followed by a doctorate and post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto. Subsequently, he graduated from medical school at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Detsky is active teaching medical ethics and reflective practice to undergraduate medical students.
He writes about issues in medical ethics, oncology, and end-of-life care on his blog.
"Our laws should be guided by the wishes of our society. And I agree with the vast majority of Canadians that we are long overdue for legalized physician-assisted dying (PAD).
Unfortunately, even with the best palliative care, some patients experience intolerable suffering near the end of a terminal illness — not only pain, but shortness of breath, nausea, confusion, agitation and existential distress. Physicians have sworn to act in their patients’ best interests, and in rare cases, physician-assisted dying is the most compassionate act we could offer, were it legal.
Many physicians are resistant to supporting legalized PAD — not for moral reasons, but due to fears surrounding a "slippery slope," mistaken beliefs regarding how PAD is actually carried out, and a misunderstanding of what safeguards are put in place in regions where PAD is available.
I believe that we need to educate the public and physicians regarding how PAD works to best prepare for the imminent reality of legalized medically assisted dying."