Thursday, August 3, 2017

Netherlands five year study shows significant increases in assisted deaths and continued abuse of the law.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On June 30, I published the data from the Netherlands five year study concerning End-of-Life Decisions. I received the data from one of our supporters who does research related to assisted death who sent me the link before it was officially published.

Netherlands study: 431 people were killed without explicit request in 2015.

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published the data today, from the five year Netherlands euthanasia study entitled: End-of-Life Decisions in the Netherlands over 25 years.

The NEJM report compares the data from the 1990 study to the data from 2015 study. By comparing the 1990 data to the 2015 data it lessens the effect of the large number of euthanasia deaths. The growth in euthanasia doesn't appear as tragic when expressed as increases over 25 years.

The NEJM report states:
The percentage of patients in whom an end-of-life decision had preceded death increased from 39% in 1990 to 58% in 2015. In 1990, 1.7% of all deaths were the result of euthanasia; in 2015, the percentage was 4.5%. The rate of physician-assisted suicide varied between 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively. In 2015, physician assistance in dying was requested by 8.3% of all deceased persons. Ending of life without an explicit patient request decreased, from 0.8% in 1990 to 0.3% in 2015. The use of morphine to alleviate symptoms while taking into account possible hastening of death as a result increased from 19% of all deaths in 1990 to 36% in 2010 and 2015. Continuous deep sedation was provided in 8.2% of all patients in 2005 and in 18.3% in 2015; this practice involved the use of benzodiazepines, often combined with an opioid, in 83% and 95% of all cases, respectively.
When publishing the 2015 Netherlands euthanasia data I stated:
The data from the 2015 study concerning ending-of-life decisions in the Netherlands was recently published. In 2015 there were 7254 assisted deaths (6672 euthanasia deaths, 150 assisted suicide deaths, 431 termination of life without request) and 18,213 deaths whereby the medical decisions that were intended to bring about the death.

Clear abuse of the Netherlands euthanasia law.

According to the Netherlands 2015 official euthanasia report there were 5561 reported assisted deaths in 2015 and yet the data from the study indicates that there were 7254 assisted deaths in 2015. Therefore, there were 1693 unreported assisted deaths (approximately 23%) in 2015.
The 431 terminations of life without explicit request had increased from 310 in 2010.

Based on the five year interval reports: 
• In 2005 there were 2425 assisted deaths (20% were not reported and 550 deaths were without explicit request). 
In 2010 there were 4050 assisted deaths (23% were not reported and 310 deaths were without explicit request). 
• In 2015 there were 7254 assisted deaths (23% were not reported and 431 deaths were without explicit request).
The study was done in a similar manner as the previous studies in 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010. The researchers sent out questionnaires to the attending physicians concerning deaths from August - November 2015 in the Netherlands. The researchers sent out 9351 questionnaires and 7761 (78%) questionnaires were returned.

The data from the 2015 Netherlands study should be a wake-up call for Canada, that legalized assisted death last year and Australia, who are fervently debating the legalization of assisted death.


Dr John Hayes said...

The NEJM article[Supp appendix] states that there were 147134 deaths in The Netherlands in 2015. There were 7761 Euthanasia deaths.

My calculator tells me this is 5.27 % of all deaths, NOT 4.5% as stated.

Is this a mistake ? Write to the NEJM

John Hayes

Alex Schadenberg said...

There were 7254 assisted deaths, that already included the 431 deaths without request. The 4.5% figure is only based on the 6672 euthanasia deaths, but omitted the 150 assisted suicide deaths. Therefore the number is actually 4.6%.

In my next article I analysed the 2016 data and based on the 10% increase in assisted deaths in 2016 there is a 5% killing rate in 2016. said...

When a person is killed by doctors without their consent there is only one evil will involved, the doctor's. When people consent to the killing, or worse ask for it, two evil wills are involved. So voluntary euthanasia is worse than involuntary. To consider involuntary euthanasia worse is to go along with the false idea of autonomy that leads to the de.and for euthanasia in the first place.