Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
N Engl J Med. 2007 May 10;356(19):1957-65.

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

Author information

1
Department of Public Health, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands. a.vanderheide@erasmusmc.nl

Abstract

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.

PMID:
17494928
DOI:
10.1056/NEJMsa071143
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Atypon
    Loading ...
    Support Center