Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Euthanasia and the use of end-of-life drugs without explicit request

Date:
May 17, 2010
Source:
Canadian Medical Association Journal
Summary:
Despite fears to the contrary, the use of drugs to end life without patient request has not increased since euthanasia was legalized in Belgium, states a new article.

Despite fears to the contrary, the use of drugs to end life without patient request has not increased since euthanasia was legalized in Belgium, states an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Related Articles


Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are controversial issues in the medical world. There are fears that the legalization of euthanasia will result in an increase in the use of life-ending drugs without explicit patient request, especially for vulnerable people such as seniors.

Euthanasia and/or physician-assisted suicide have been decriminalized in the US states of Oregon (1997) and Washington State (2009), as well as three European countries: Belgium and the Netherlands (2002) and Luxemburg (2009). Recently, the legalization debate has ignited in several countries, including Canada where a proposed bill was defeated by Parliament in April and the National Assembly of Quebec has launched consultations on the right to die through euthanasia.

The CMAJ study by a team of Belgian and Dutch researchers found 208 physician-assisted deaths in their sample of death certificates in Flemish Belgium. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide occurred in 2% of all Flemish deaths and the use of life-ending drugs without request occurred in 1.8% of deaths. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide were performed often in patients younger than 80 years (79.6%), in cancer patients (80.2%) and in people dying at home (50.3%). The use of life-ending drugs without explicit request often involved patients over the age of 80 (53%) and deaths in hospital ( 67%).

Despite the lack of explicit patient request, the use of life-ending drugs was in most cases discussed with patients' families and health professional colleagues.

"The use of life-ending drugs without explicit patient request occurs predominantly in hospital and among elderly patients who are mostly in an irreversible coma or demented," write Dr. Kenneth Chambaere, Vrije Universiteit, Brussel, and coauthors. "This fits the description of 'vulnerable' patient groups at risk of life-ending without request. Due attention should therefore be paid to protecting these particular patient groups from such practices. However, these patients are not proportionally more at risk than other patient groups."

The researchers also found that in deaths without explicit request, mostly opioids were used along with benzodiazepines, although the efficacy of opioids in hastening death may be overestimated. They urge the need for advance care planning in the case of unpredictable end-of-life illnesses and decision-making.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Canadian Medical Association Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chambaere, Kenneth, Bilsen, Johan, Cohen, Joachim, Onwuteaka-Philipsen, Bregje D, Mortier, Freddy, Deliens, Luc. Physician-assisted deaths under the euthanasia law in Belgium: a population-based survey. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2010; DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.091876

Cite This Page:

Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Euthanasia and the use of end-of-life drugs without explicit request." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100517141536.htm>.
Canadian Medical Association Journal. (2010, May 17). Euthanasia and the use of end-of-life drugs without explicit request. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100517141536.htm
Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Euthanasia and the use of end-of-life drugs without explicit request." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100517141536.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill Test Can Predict Chance Of Death Within A Decade

Treadmill Test Can Predict Chance Of Death Within A Decade

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Johns Hopkins researchers analyzed 58,000 heart stress tests to come up with a formula that predicts a person&apos;s chances of dying in the next decade. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Going Gluten-Free Could Get You A Tax Break

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) If a doctor advises you to remove gluten from your diet, you could get a tax deduction on the amount you spend on gluten-free foods. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis Try Swapping Success

GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis Try Swapping Success

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 2, 2015) GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis have completed a series of asset swaps worth more than $20 billion. As Grace Pascoe reports they say the deal will reshape both drugmakers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Can West Africa Rebuild After Ebola?

How Can West Africa Rebuild After Ebola?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 2, 2015) How best to rebuild the three West African countries struggling with Ebola will be discussed in Brussels this week. As Hayley Platt reports Sierra Leone has the toughest job ahead - its once thriving economy has been ravaged by the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins