Dutch euthanasia doctors must wait up to eight months to find out if they will undergo criminal investigation.
Dutch euthanasia doctors must wait up to eight months to find out if they will undergo criminal investigation. An “enormous” surge in the number of cases has flooded an already strained reporting system. The Dutch Medical Association calls the situation “serious” and says there is “unrest” among doctors.
Under the 2002 law, doctors are obliged to report voluntary euthanasia (where a doctor ends a patient’s life at his or her explicit request) and assisted suicide (where the doctor helps a patient take a deadly drug) to one of 5 regional assessment committees made up of a doctor, a lawyer and an ethicist.
The committee must be convinced that the doctor has adhered to all criteria for due care – or the case must be passed to the public prosecution service and the Healthcare Inspectorate. These criteria include that the patient must be suffering unbearably and hopelessly, and must have made a free and considered request. The patient must also be referred to an independent doctor, and the euthanasia must be conducted in a medically thorough manner.
No prosecutions have been made under the current law, but about a dozen cases are scrutinised each year. A preliminary investigation is undertaken, questioning the doctor to see if there is a criminal case to answer. So far, these have only resulted in conditional warnings. ~ BMJ, Sep 12
Dutch doctors complain about long wait for judgments in euthanasia cases
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