Commonly used terms in the Assisted Dying Service

A glossary of terms used in the Assisted Dying Service that may be new or unfamiliar to some people.

Term 

Definition

Administration of the medication

The action of the eligible person taking the assisted dying medication that will end their life, or the medical or nurse practitioner administering this medication.

Assisted dying

An option for a terminally ill person to choose to receive medication that will end their suffering by bringing on death.

Assisted Dying Secretariat

The team at the Ministry of Health that is responsible for overseeing, monitoring and supporting the Assisted Dying Service.

Assisted death

A death that is the result of an eligible person following the process outlined in the End of Life Choice Act 2019. 

Attending medical practitioner (AMP)

The medical practitioner who provides end-to-end care throughout the assisted dying process. This may be a person’s usual medical practitioner or someone from the SCENZ Group list.

Attending nurse practitioner (ANP)

The nurse practitioner who may be involved in the assisted dying process and administer the assisted dying medication (under the instruction of the attending medical practitioner).

Authorised person

Someone who the person accessing assisted dying has agreed can discuss their case with the involved practitioners and the Ministry of Health, ie. a family member who makes appointments on their behalf.

Clinical advisor

A registered nurse working in the Assisted Dying Secretariat (at the Ministry of Health) who provides information and support to the person, their whānau and involved health practitioners.

Competent to make an informed decision

The person accessing assisted dying must be competent to make an informed decision about assisted dying. This means they can understand, retain, use and weigh relevant information about assisted dying, and can communicate their decision in some way.  

End of life care

The care provided to a person as they are nearing the end of their life. Assisted dying is one option for end of life care. (Also see below for palliative care.)

End of Life Choice Act 2019

The law that makes assisted dying legal and sets out the eligibility criteria and assessment process. Read more about the Act.

End of Life Review Committee

A statutory body for the assisted dying service, which is responsible for considering reports about assisted deaths and whether they show compliance with the Act. Read more about the End of Life Review Committee.

Health practitioner

A health professional who is registered and holds a practising certificate in line with the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003. Medical practitioners and nurse practitioners are examples of health practitioners.

Independent medical practitioner (IMP)

The medical practitioner who provides the second eligibility assessment. The IMP is from the SCENZ Group list.

Mate Whakaahuru

The te reo Māori translation of assisted dying, which means to die in a warm and comforting manner.

Medical practitioner

A doctor who is registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand and holds an annual practising certificate.

Nurse practitioner 

A practitioner who has advanced education, clinical training and the demonstrated competence and legal authority to practise beyond the level of a registered nurse. A nurse practitioner is registered with the Nursing Council and holds an annual practicing certificate.

Palliative care

Care for a person with an illness that cannot be cured that aims to make them more comfortable, maintain or improve their quality of life for as long as possible. Read more about palliative care.

Person

The person who has requested assisted dying.

Proxy person

A person who is asked by the person accessing assisted dying to sign the required forms on their behalf because they cannot sign them. The proxy person must be over 18, be mentally competent, not stand to benefit from the person’s death, and not be a health professional providing care to the person.

Psychiatrist

A medical practitioner with a specialty in psychiatry. A psychiatrist may be required to perform a competency assessment as part of the assisted dying process. The psychiatrist is from the SCENZ Group list. A psychiatrist is registered with the Medical Council in the psychiatry scope and holds an annual practicing certificate.

Request for assisted dying

The clear request that a person would like to start the assisted dying process. Noting that they may have already had some conversations about assisted dying before making this request.

Safeguards

Measures or actions that are in place to protect the safety of the person accessing assisted dying and the health practitioners involved in the process. For example, the need for a second eligibility assessment is a safeguard.

Terminal illness

An illness that cannot be cured and will likely lead to the person’s death.

Support and Consultation for End of Life in New Zealand (SCENZ) Group

A statutory body for the assisted dying service, which is responsible for maintaining lists of practitioners who are willing to provide assisted dying services, as well as providing practical help in relation to assisted dying. Read more about the SCENZ Group.

Back to top