Clinical problems with the performance of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in The Netherlands

Title

Clinical problems with the performance of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in The Netherlands

Creator

Groenewoud JH; van der Heide A; Onwuteaka-Philipsen BD; Willems DL; van der Maas PJ; van der Wal G

Publisher

The New England Journal Of Medicine

Date

2000

Subject

Female; Humans; Male; Adult; Data Collection; Aged; Middle Aged; Euthanasia; Netherlands; Suicide; 80 and over; Empirical Approach; Death and Euthanasia; Active; Random Allocation; Euthanasia/statistics & numerical data; Empirical Research; Assisted/statistics & numerical data

Description

BACKGROUND AND METHODS: The characteristics and frequency of clinical problems with the performance of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are uncertain. We analyzed data from two studies of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in The Netherlands (one conducted in 1990 and 1991 and the other in 1995 and 1996), with a total of 649 cases. We categorized clinical problems as technical problems, such as difficulty inserting an intravenous line; complications, such as myoclonus or vomiting; or problems with completion, such as a longer-than-expected interval between the administration of medications and death. RESULTS: In 114 cases, the physician's intention was to provide assistance with suicide, and in 535, the intention was to perform euthanasia. Problems of any type were more frequent in cases of assisted suicide than in cases of euthanasia. Complications occurred in 7 percent of cases of assisted suicide, and problems with completion (a longer-than-expected time to death, failure to induce coma, or induction of coma followed by awakening of the patient) occurred in 16 percent of the cases; complications and problems with completion occurred in 3 percent and 6 percent of cases of euthanasia, respectively. The physician decided to administer a lethal medication in 21 of the cases of assisted suicide (18 percent), which thus became cases of euthanasia. The reasons for this decision included problems with completion (in 12 cases) and the inability of the patient to take all the medications (in 5). CONCLUSIONS: There may be clinical problems with the performance of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. In The Netherlands, physicians who intend to provide assistance with suicide sometimes end up administering a lethal medication themselves because of the patient's inability to take the medication or because of problems with the completion of physician-assisted suicide.
2000

Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. PedPalASCNET does not hold any rights over the resource listed here. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Type

Journal Article

Citation List Month

Backlog

Pages

551-556

Issue

8

Volume

342

Citation

Groenewoud JH; van der Heide A; Onwuteaka-Philipsen BD; Willems DL; van der Maas PJ; van der Wal G, “Clinical problems with the performance of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in The Netherlands,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed May 28, 2022, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/12102.

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