Saturday, December 4, 2010

Belgium euthanasia: Study finds that nearly half of all euthanasia deaths are unreported.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A study on the practise of euthanasia in Belgium that was recently published in the British Medical Journal found that nearly half of all assisted deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium were not reported.


This study combined with the recent study that was published in the CMAJ in June 2010 that proves that 32% of all euthanasia deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium were done without explicit request suggests that the Belgium euthanasia model is out-of-control.

Recently retired Belgium professor and pro-euthanasia activist Jan Bernheim toured Quebec, telling audiences that the Belgium euthanasia law is operating without problems or abuses. When I was doing my speaking tour of Australia Bernheim had also just completed a similar speaking tour. I responded to Bernheim's comments by stating that he is intentionally misleading the public.

Jan Bernheim
The authors of the study analyzed the death certificates in the Flanders Region of Belgium. After determining that the death was related to euthanasia, the authors of the study sent a five page questionnaire to the treating physician. The physicians were guaranteed total anonymity and asked to respond to the questionnaire.

The study determined that euthanasia deaths were reported 52.8% of the time, even though reporting is a requirement of the law. The most recent study in the Netherlands indicated that the euthanasia deaths were reported 80.2% of the time.

The study indicates that the reasons for euthanasia deaths not being reported were:
  • 76.7% - the physician did not perceive their act as euthanasia.
  • 17.9% - reporting was considered an administrative burden.
  • 11.9% - the legal, due care requirements, had possibly not all been met.
  • 8.7% - euthanasia is a private matter between the physician and patient.
  • 2.3% - because of possible legal consequences.
The study determined that unreported euthanasia deaths represented a different demographic group than the reported euthanasia deaths. The study stated:
"However, in a bivariate analysis there was a significant relation between reporting euthanasia and the patient's age, with deaths of patients aged 80 years or older reported significantly less often than deaths of younger patients."
The CMAJ study found that 32% of all euthanasia deaths in Belgium were done without explicit request also indicated that these assisted deaths were rarely reported and were also more likely to be done to:
"patients 80 years or older who were mostly in a coma or had dementia."
The study concluded that this:
"fits the description of "vulnerable patient groups at risk of life-ending without request."
It is interesting that 97.7% deaths that were done by a physician were reported, whereas 41.3% of the unreported cases were done by a nurse alone, which is illegal in Belgium. 

This confirms the result of the other recent study that found that 45% of euthanasia deaths that were done by nurses were without request or consent.

This study challenges the findings from the Belgium official reports. According to the data, physicians who reported the euthanasia death were more likely to practise euthanasia carefully and in compliance with the law. Since the data indicates that only 52.8% of all euthanasia deaths were reported and since physicians admitted that in at least 2.3% of the cases the euthanasia death was not reported due to possible legal consequences and 11.9% of the cases were not reported because the legal requirements were not met, therefore it is clear that physicians are only reporting the euthanasia deaths that comply with the parameters of the law.

This study creates suspician concerning the administration of the assisted suicide laws in Oregon and Washington States.

In Washington State this study would be difficult to do because the law requires physicians to lie on the death certificate. The death, is required by law, to be listed as related to the illness the person had (ie. cancer) rather than the cause of death (assisted suicide by lethal overdose).

In Oregon and Washington state there is no mechanism to determine whether all assisted sucide deaths are reported. Similar to the Belgium reports, the official reports are based on the reported deaths only and it is unknown how many assisted deaths are not reported.

In Oregon, where the assisted suicide law has been in place since 1998, Compassion and Choices, formerly the Hemlock Society, are the "gate-keepers" of the law. Last year (2009) 57 of 59 assisted suicide deaths in Oregon were facilitated by Compassion and Choices and in 2008, 54 of 60 assisted suicide deaths were facilitated by Compassion and Choices.

When the group that lobbies to legalize assisted suicide is also the facilitators of the assisted suicide law in Oregon, it is very unlikely that they would self-report cases that fall-outside of the law or cases that do not fit the paradigm that they are promoting throughout the United States and world-wide.

This study indicates that even when legalized and regulated, that abuse and under-reporting is common. The abuse is hidden from the public by the medical practitioners who only report the deaths that are considered acceptable or legal by society.

The only way to protect vulnerable people is to prohibit euthanasia and assisted suicide and to improve the care that society offers its citizens.

5 comments:

Ironsides said...

Alex, did you ever read the blog I posted about what happened to me in 2008, in the ICU's at the Royal Victoria, and the Montreal Chest Institute?

In my situations, while I was trached, and doctors had me on hold, until they could decide whether to change my leaking trache, or to just go ahead and take out the stone in my bladder, the doctor was OK, although he made two fastal mistakes.

When he realized the crisis, he acted fast. The nurses at both ICU's were the biggest problem.

Two of them at this ICU, I learned, are gone somewhere else. All I can say is, good-riddance!

Nurses can get away with alot of things, but there are still a fair number of really dedicated nurses.

Hospital crews seem to believe so much in the undisputable perfection of hospital computerized equipment, that that is what caused some of my crises at the RVH.

The nurse told me one day, that it was his decision when the doctor needed to be called.--Not the patients'!

He argued with me, and one or two RT's (respiratory technicians), that I was fighting against the ventilator. I explained that my rapid bpm's (breaths per-minute) were because the program was not able to respond to variables.

On RT finally got the point, but all the nurses could do was argue with me about equipment they know nothing about.

Even outside the paramaters of deliberately finishing somebody off, there are unlimited convenient accidents which can be arranged.

Just be too busy when a bell rings, and everybody else is on break and attending another patient.

Last night I finally listened to the McGill University meeting, and I noticed how irritated the top-dog for euthanasia gets on the mic.

There is big money in their program, like all the other corporations.--And that is why they are going to force a law passed, one way or another.

I think it is important that nobody shake-at-the-knees because of these thugs. When they flip-the-switch, and play the emotional game of all the suffering people, just throw a box of tissues at them. Let them wipe their own tears!

Ironsides said...

Alex, did you ever read the blog I posted about what happened to me in 2008, in the ICU's at the Royal Victoria, and the Montreal Chest Institute?

In my situations, while I was trached, and doctors had me on hold, until they could decide whether to change my leaking trache, or to just go ahead and take out the stone in my bladder, the doctor was OK, although he made two fatal mistakes.

When he realized the crisis, he acted fast. The nurses at both ICU's were the biggest problem.

Two of them at this ICU, I learned, are gone somewhere else. All I can say is, good-riddance!

Nurses can get away with alot of things, but there are still a fair number of really dedicated nurses.

Hospital crews seem to believe so much in the undisputable perfection of hospital computerized equipment, that that is what caused some of my crises at the RVH.

The nurse told me one day, that it was his decision when the doctor needed to be called.--Not the patients'!

He argued with me, and one or two RT's (respiratory technicians), that I was fighting against the ventilator. I explained that my rapid bpm's (breaths per-minute) were because the program was not able to respond to variables.

On RT finally got the point, but all the nurses could do was argue with me about equipment they know nothing about.

Even outside the paramaters of deliberately finishing somebody off, there are unlimited convenient accidents which can be arranged.

Just be too busy when a bell rings, and everybody else is on break and attending another patient.

Last night I finally listened to the McGill University meeting, and I noticed how irritated the top-dog for euthanasia gets on the mic.

There is big money in their program, like all the other corporations.--And that is why they are going to force a law passed, one way or another.

I think it is important that nobody shake-at-the-knees because of these thugs. When they flip-the-switch, and play the emotional game of all the suffering people, just throw a box of tissues at them. Let them wipe their own tears!

Sample Survey Questionnaire said...

What do you mean by Euthanasia? it that something to do with "mercy killing"?

Alex Schadenberg said...

Yes:

Euthanasia is when one person directly and intentionally causes the death of another person. In Belgium, where euthanasia is legal, a recent study has proved that nearly half of all euthanasia deaths are not reported.

Anonymous said...

"I responded to Bernheim's comments by stating that he is intentionally misleading the public."

hahaha, while isn't that the kettle calling the pot black....