A leading euthanasia study opened in the Netherlands on Monday to find out what to do with dementia patients who may have wanted to die earlier but might think later.
The lawsuit revolves around a 74-year-old woman who was given lethal doses of drugs three years ago, although some evidence suggests she may have changed her mind. The doctor in the case was also accused of making an inadequate effort to find out if the patient still wanted to die.
She was charged with violating euthanasia law, and if a judge ruled a patient's claim was inappropriate, that theory could in theory be murder. But the prosecution does not want a possible criminal conviction against the doctor, not a matter of your good faith. Instead, the prosecution focuses its case on a better legal framework for the future.
"We believe the doctor did not act carefully enough and thus crossed the threshold, but at the same time we also say that the threshold is not very clear," said prosecuting spokeswoman Marilyn Fikenscher, emphasizing arguments that the doctor acted with good intentions.
"She should not be punished," Fikenscher said. The daughter of the patient, who also died vigorously defended herself, a doctor.
It is the first such case since 2002, the legalization of euthanasia in a nation that has long been a pioneer in deliberately ending life when suffering becomes overwhelming. The Dutch Euthanasia Act of 2002 decriminalizes the practice if it is carried out by a doctor who complies with strict conditions.
The officer began investigating the case last September when they discovered the doctor had added a sedative to the patient's coffee and then kept family members pressured while delivering a lethal injection of medication.
While on Monday in the introductory session, the doctor, today retired, said she was fulfilling a patient's euthanasia requirement since 2012. By the time she died, the woman was suffering from "deep dementia," said the doctor, a condition in which brain functions like analytical thoughts, abstract thinking and planning are quickly devastating.
The doctor testified that, since the patient was not psychologically competent, she did not say anything to the woman, as at the time when her death was sufficient to invalidate the WRITTEN explanation. She said the patient could no longer understand the meaning of terms such as euthanasia and dementia.
However, the Dutch prosecution argued that the patient's LETTER application was vague and contradictory. In 2012, after learning about the onset of your Alzheimer's disease, you filed a statement on euthanasia that said "you certainly don't want to be placed in an elderly care facility."
"I want a decent forgiveness for my loved ones," the patient wrote. She later added that she wanted euthanasia to take place, "when I have time."
The Netherlands is one of five countries that allows doctors to kill patients as they wish, and one of them, together with Belgium, provides procedures for people with mental illness.
Euthanasia involves doctors actively killing patients by injecting drugs, but in the area of a supervised dying patient, a deadly solution that you must drink alone.
For people with late-stage dementia, euthanasia is still possible if a person submits a written request stating the conditions under which they would like to be killed if other criteria are met, for example, if a physician agrees that suffering patients are unbearable with no chance of recovery.
After Monday's session, the case was resumed for the day on Wednesday, and the result of the study will be announced in two weeks.
Dutch prosecutors also examine two other criminal investigations conducted by doctors seeking euthanasia in questionable circumstances; two more cases have recently been deleted.
Steven Pleiter, board member of Levenseinde Kliniek End of Life Hospital, said the case should not create the impression that the Netherlands has such life and death problems all too easily.
"This is the first case (that has happened) in over 50,000 euthanasia cases, so there is a very prudent practice in the Netherlands," Pleiter said.
Brussels casket reports. Medical writer Maria Cheng and Mike Corder were from London.
Updated: August 27, 2019 1:42 AM