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Dutch doctor rebuked for euthanizing dementia patient without consent

28 January 2017


​The committee found that the woman was not mentally competent to consent to being killed.

NL Times has reported that for the first time, a Dutch doctor has been reprimanded for euthanizing a dementia patient without conclusively establishing it was what she wanted.

The Regional Euthanasia Review Committee found that consent wasn't established, and that the implementation of euthanasia was traumatic.

Advanced dementia

The case involved an 80 year old woman, who was placed in a care home after her dementia became so advanced that her husband could no longer cope with care at home. She was distressed and frightened, and after a few weeks, the doctor at the home determined that she was suffering unbearably. He concluded that she was not mentally competent, but that an earlier statement in her will that she wanted euthanasia "when I myself find it the right time"; justified killing her.

Held down and injected with lethal drugs

According to the NL Times, the doctor first gave the woman a sedative in a cup of coffee. She tried to get up when he injected the lethal drugs, but he continued while the woman's family held her down.

The review committee determined that the woman's declaration in her will did not clearly state that she wanted to be euthanized after being admitted to a nursing home. The words "when I myself find it the right time" does not take into account a situation in which the woman was no longer mentally competent.

"Crossed a line"

The committee also said that the doctor "crossed a line" by hiding the first dose of sedative in a cup of coffee. He also should have stopped at the woman's movements, although they could have been "purely physical".

However, the committee considered that he acted rightly in diagnosing "hopeless and unbearable suffering". The Dutch newspaper does not specify what punishment the doctor received.

Care not Killing yesterday condemned giving euthanasia to patients with reduced mental capacity,

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