Sunday, November 24, 2019

Belgian doctor charged with murder in the deaths of 9 patients.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

CHR van Hoei Hospital
On September 24 I reported that a Belgian doctor had been charged with murder in the deaths of four patients in the palliative care department of the CHR van Hoei Hospital.

HLN news has now reported that the doctor lost his contract with the hospital and has been charged with murder in the deaths of five more patients, making it nine total murder charges.

According to HLN news, the physician claims that the deaths were not murder but palliative sedation, more accurately referred to as terminal sedation.

The physician claims that he just wanted to stop the pain and these cases were not euthanasia.

Wim Distlemans
Dr Wim Distelmans, who is co-chair of the Belgian euthanasia control commission and operates a euthanasia clinic, told the Belgian news that palliative sedation is not regulated and occurs 4 times more often in Belgium than euthanasia. Distelmans stated (google translated)

“What happens too often is that doctors dramatically increase the doses of the drugs via the baxter to speed up the end of life. That's hypocritical, because they say to the family, "We just keep him asleep." In fact, such a doctor puts an end to life. You can't even call it euthanasia, because the patient didn't ask for it, "
The intentional overdosing of palliative patients is common and is ethically the same as euthanasia. These cases of terminal sedation represent an abuse of the proper use of sedation. Palliative sedation, when done correctly and ethically, should not cause the death of the patient and should not become confused with murder.

A 2015 Belgian study showed that more than 1000 people died an assisted death without request in 2013. Data, such as this, should create great concern, but in Belgium it has simply been a statistic. This case may begin to deal with the number of intentional deaths without consent occur in Belgium.

I will continue to follow this case. Currently the court is not publishing the facts of around these cases.

1 comment:

gordon friesen said...

Hi Alex,

The legalization of euthanasia seems to have had a wider enabling effect in Belgium, or alternatively, we are just coming to learn of a prior status quo which was more scrupulously hidden.

The doctor thinks to himself, "this is legal, this is ethical, so I might as well do it. And yet I don't have time for all those forms or worrying about patient consent."

Hence what has always been done is done on a massively larger scale (or just more brazenly)

What remains to be seen is whether these things will ever be punished. After all, laws are good, but laws which are ignored by all parties are worse than useless.

If the legality of euthanasia might be leveraged to stop acts outside the parameters, that would be a good thing. If on the other hand, that legality is used to enable a larger illegal zone, then that is a loss.

At least, when you say you will monitor this closely, we will eventually be able to tell which it is to be.

Thanks again for all your work,

Gordon Friesen Montreal