Saturday, January 16, 2010

Judge Says "Clean Needle" Program Like Palliative Care.

Via the Washington Post, a Canadian judge has compared the first-of-its-kind, threatened "clean needle" program in BC to palliative care. The pertinent quote is in the last paragraph of the excerpt below.

I'm a strong believer in clean needle programs that recognize and address addicts' suffering and vulnerability to disease - without shaming or blaming the victims. I also think palliative care shouldn't be a marginalized field of medical practice. Yet the specialty is demeaned as "rationed" medicine or only for those who have given up on life (much like hospice!)

Apt comparison? Inviting dispersions? What do you think?

British Columbia's top court on Friday rejected an attempt by the Canadian government to close North America's first safe injection site for drug users.

The site, where people can inject illegal drugs with clean needles under a nurse's supervision, has operated since 2003 under a temporary exemption. It was opened as part of a harm-reduction plan to tackle an epidemic of HIV-AIDS and drug overdose deaths.

The exemption was scheduled to end in 2008, but a trial court allowed it to remain open. The Conservative government appealed Justice Ian Pitfield's ruling last year that allowed Insite, as the site is known, a constitutional exemption from Canadian drug laws.

In the May 2008 ruling, Pitfield said Insite - operated by the Portland Hotel Society in conjunction with the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority - provided important health care resources to addicts.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal rejected the federal government's bid to overturn the lower court's ruling that said Insite provided a needed medical service.

The three-member appeals court panel, which was split in its ruling, said Insite is a health facility and falls under provincial and not federal Canadian jurisdiction.

"Like palliative care, it is a form of harm reduction with benefits for both the patient and the community," said Justice Carol Huddart in the split decision. "The lure of safe injection gets those addicts into Insite so health care may be delivered."

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December 19, 2010 at 7:19 PM  

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