End-of-life practices in the Netherlands under the Euthanasia Act

Title

End-of-life practices in the Netherlands under the Euthanasia Act

Creator

van der Heide A; Onwuteaka-Philipsen BD; Rurup ML; Buiting HM; van Delden JJ; Hanssen-de Wolf JE; Janssen AG; Pasman HR; Rietjens JA; Prins CJ; Deerenberg IM; Gevers JK; van der Maas PJ; van der Wal G

Publisher

The New England Journal Of Medicine

Date

2007

Subject

Female; Humans; Male; Analgesics; Questionnaires; Follow-Up Studies; Aged; Middle Aged; Netherlands; Suicide; 80 and over; cause of death; Opioid/administration & dosage; Hypnotics and Sedatives/administration & dosage; Assisted/legislation & jurisprudence/statistics & numerical data/trends; Euthanasia/legislation & jurisprudence/statistics & numerical data/trends; Withholding Treatment/statistics & numerical data/trends

Description

BACKGROUND: In 2002, an act regulating the ending of life by a physician at the request of a patient with unbearable suffering came into effect in the Netherlands. In 2005, we performed a follow-up study of euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, and other end-of-life practices. METHODS: We mailed questionnaires to physicians attending 6860 deaths that were identified from death certificates. The response rate was 77.8%. RESULTS: In 2005, of all deaths in the Netherlands, 1.7% were the result of euthanasia and 0.1% were the result of physician-assisted suicide. These percentages were significantly lower than those in 2001, when 2.6% of all deaths resulted from euthanasia and 0.2% from assisted suicide. Of all deaths, 0.4% were the result of the ending of life without an explicit request by the patient. Continuous deep sedation was used in conjunction with possible hastening of death in 7.1% of all deaths in 2005, significantly increased from 5.6% in 2001. In 73.9% of all cases of euthanasia or assisted suicide in 2005, life was ended with the use of neuromuscular relaxants or barbiturates; opioids were used in 16.2% of cases. In 2005, 80.2% of all cases of euthanasia or assisted suicide were reported. Physicians were most likely to report their end-of-life practices if they considered them to be an act of euthanasia or assisted suicide, which was rarely true when opioids were used. CONCLUSIONS: The Dutch Euthanasia Act was followed by a modest decrease in the rates of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. The decrease may have resulted from the increased application of other end-of-life care interventions, such as palliative sedation.
2007

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

1957-1965

Issue

19

Volume

356

Citation

van der Heide A; Onwuteaka-Philipsen BD; Rurup ML; Buiting HM; van Delden JJ; Hanssen-de Wolf JE; Janssen AG; Pasman HR; Rietjens JA; Prins CJ; Deerenberg IM; Gevers JK; van der Maas PJ; van der Wal G, “End-of-life practices in the Netherlands under the Euthanasia Act,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed September 23, 2021, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/14297.

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