Friday, July 27, 2018

Dutch doctor reprimanded for euthanasia without consent of woman with dementia who resisted.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The case of the Dutch doctor who forced euthanasia on a patient with dementia who resisted is back in the media after the Netherlands Euthanasia Commission censured the doctor.

In January 2017, a Netherlands Regional Euthanasia Review Committee decided that the forced euthanasia done on a woman with dementia, where the doctor sedated the woman by secretly putting the drugs in her coffee, and then asked the family to hold her down in order to lethally inject her, was done in "good faith." 

The committee chair, Jacob Kohnstammhad, urged that the case be reviewed by the court, but urged that the doctor not be punished, but rather to set a precedent concerning these acts.

According to the article by Sanay Boztas for the Telegraph the doctor was reprimanded but the Netherlands Public Prosecutor has not decided if the doctor will be prosecuted. The article states:

The case is the first time since the Dutch euthanasia law was passed in 2002 that a practitioner has been formally censured. According to the Dutch NOS broadcaster, the public prosecutor will announce after the summer if the doctor will face criminal prosecution.
The Telegraph article stated that the reaction to the censure of the doctor has been mixed:
Some doctors have reacted positively to the ruling, saying it provides more clarity in a complex area. Bert Keizer, a doctor who works for the End of Life Clinic, told NOS: “At last there is clarity. But for people with a living will who want to die if they have advanced dementia, this is a negative ruling. If they can no longer indicate that they still want to die, they will have to drink the cup [of sedative] otherwise they will not receive euthanasia.”
In March we learned that the Netherlands Public Prosecutor was examining several euthanasia cases

The DutchNL news reported in March that the regional euthanasia review committee's annual euthanasia report indicated that the number of assisted deaths increased by another 8% to 6585 reported assisted deaths in 2017.

The DutchNL news, indicated that the number of assisted deaths for dementia or psychiatric reasons also increased with 169 people dying by euthanasia for dementia (3 were advanced dementia) and 83 people dying by euthanasia for psychiatric reasons. 
The DutchNL article indicated that 12 of the euthanasia deaths were questionable:
Twelve cases were labeled by the monitoring committee as not being carefully carried out – these were mainly problems with medical care or not having an independent second opinion.
The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) (August 3, 2017) published a study titled: End-of-Life Decisions in the Netherlands over 25 years.

Netherlands euthanasia study uncovered abuse of the law. The study indicates that in 2015 there were 7254 assisted deaths (6672 euthanasia deaths, 150 assisted suicide deaths, 431 terminations of life without request).

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