Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Dutch doctors pressured in euthanasia requests

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


The British Medical Journal published a study "Pressure in dealing with requests for euthanasia or assisted suicide. Experiences of general practitioners." 

The study interviewed 22 General Practitioners and indepth interviews with 15 General Practitioners concluded that:
GPs experienced in dealing with EAS requests were revealed: (1) emotional blackmail, (2) control and direction by others, (3) doubts about fulfilling the criteria, (4) counterpressure by patient’s relatives, (5) time pressure around referred patients and (6) organisational pressure.
The Medical Bag reported:
The study researchers conclude that “the pressure experienced by [general practitioners] in dealing with EAS requests can be attributable to factors associated with the patient-physician relationship and/or the relationship between the physician and the patient’s relative(s), the inherent complexity of the decision itself and the circumstances under which they have to make the decision to (not) grant EAS requests or perform EAS.
A much larger Netherlands study interviewed 800 GP's in 2011 and concluded that half of the GP's felt pressured by relatives to do euthanasia. The study indicated that two-thirds of the GP's had done at least one euthanasia in the past 5 years.

Physicians being pressured to do euthanasia is not new, but patients also feel pressured to "ask" for euthanasia. 

I was recently contacted by a man living with quadriplegia who felt pressured by medical staff to "ask" for euthanasia. Candice Lewis and Roger Foley were also pressured to "request" euthanasia. The common denominator is that the person who is being pressured to death is living with a significant disability.

The studies concerning doctors being pressured to do euthanasia, likely share the same common denominator, that being the patient is significantly disabled and in this case, the family wants euthanasia. 

This survey also explains the incidence of euthanasia without request in the Netherlands.

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2017, there were 431 terminations of life without request in the Netherlands in 2015.

Some physicians will agree that the person's life is not worth living while others are weak and will succumb to the pressure of the family.

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