Advanced search
1 file | 345.58 KB

Physician-assisted deaths under the euthanasia law in Belgium: a population-based survey

Author
Organization
Abstract
Background: Legalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide has been heavily debated in many countries To help inform this debate, we describe the practices of euthanasia and assisted suicide, and the use of life-ending drugs without an explicit request from the patient, in Flanders, Belgium, where euthanasia is legal. Methods: We mailed a questionnaire regarding the use of life-ending drugs with or without explicit patient request to physicians who certified a representative sample (n = 6927) of death certificates of patients who died in Flanders between June and November 2007. Results: The response rate was 58.4%. Overall, 208 deaths involving the use of life-ending drugs were reported: 142 (weighted prevalence 2.0%) were with an explicit patient request (euthanasia or assisted suicide) and 66 (weighted prevalence 1.8%) were without an explicit request. Euthanasia and assisted suicide mostly involved patients less than 80 years of age, those with cancer and those dying at home. Use of life-ending drugs without an explicit request mostly involved patients 80 years of older, those with a disease other than cancer and those in hospital. Of the deaths without an explicit request, the decision was not discussed with the patient in 77.9% of cases. Compared with assisted deaths with the patient's explicit request, those without an explicit request were more likely to have a shorter length of treatment of the terminal illness, to have cure as a goal of treatment in the last week, to have a shorter estimated time by which life was shortened and to involve the administration of opioids. Interpretation: Physician-assisted deaths with an explicit patient request (euthanasia and assisted suicide) and with-out an explicit request occurred in different patient groups and under different circumstances Cases without an explicit request often involved patients whose diseases had unpredictable end-off life trajectories. Although opioids were used in most of these cases, misconceptions seem to persist about their actual life-shortening effects.
Keywords
COUNTRIES, PALLIATIVE CARE, FLANDERS, SEDATIVES, OPIOIDS, NETHERLANDS, END, MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS, OF-LIFE DECISIONS, NATIONAL-SURVEY

Downloads

    • full text
    • |
    • UGent only
    • |
    • PDF
    • |
    • 345.58 KB

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Chambaere, Kenneth, Johan Bilsen, Joachim Cohen, Bregje D Onwuteaka-Philipsen, Freddy Mortier, and Luc Deliens. 2010. “Physician-assisted Deaths Under the Euthanasia Law in Belgium: a Population-based Survey.” Canadian Medical Association Journal 182 (9): 895–901.
APA
Chambaere, K., Bilsen, J., Cohen, J., Onwuteaka-Philipsen, B. D., Mortier, F., & Deliens, L. (2010). Physician-assisted deaths under the euthanasia law in Belgium: a population-based survey. CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION JOURNAL, 182(9), 895–901.
Vancouver
1.
Chambaere K, Bilsen J, Cohen J, Onwuteaka-Philipsen BD, Mortier F, Deliens L. Physician-assisted deaths under the euthanasia law in Belgium: a population-based survey. CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION JOURNAL. 2010;182(9):895–901.
MLA
Chambaere, Kenneth, Johan Bilsen, Joachim Cohen, et al. “Physician-assisted Deaths Under the Euthanasia Law in Belgium: a Population-based Survey.” CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION JOURNAL 182.9 (2010): 895–901. Print.
@article{1339023,
  abstract     = {Background: Legalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide has been heavily debated in many countries To help inform this debate, we describe the practices of euthanasia and assisted suicide, and the use of life-ending drugs without an explicit request from the patient, in Flanders, Belgium, where euthanasia is legal.
Methods: We mailed a questionnaire regarding the use of life-ending drugs with or without explicit patient request to physicians who certified a representative sample (n = 6927) of death certificates of patients who died in Flanders between June and November 2007.
Results: The response rate was 58.4\%. Overall, 208 deaths involving the use of life-ending drugs were reported: 142 (weighted prevalence 2.0\%) were with an explicit patient request (euthanasia or assisted suicide) and 66 (weighted prevalence 1.8\%) were without an explicit request. Euthanasia and assisted suicide mostly involved patients less than 80 years of age, those with cancer and those dying at home. Use of life-ending drugs without an explicit request mostly involved patients 80 years of older, those with a disease other than cancer and those in hospital. Of the deaths without an explicit request, the decision was not discussed with the patient in 77.9\% of cases. Compared with assisted deaths with the patient's explicit request, those without an explicit request were more likely to have a shorter length of treatment of the terminal illness, to have cure as a goal of treatment in the last week, to have a shorter estimated time by which life was shortened and to involve the administration of opioids.
Interpretation: Physician-assisted deaths with an explicit patient request (euthanasia and assisted suicide) and with-out an explicit request occurred in different patient groups and under different circumstances Cases without an explicit request often involved patients whose diseases had unpredictable end-off life trajectories. Although opioids were used in most of these cases, misconceptions seem to persist about their actual life-shortening effects.},
  author       = {Chambaere, Kenneth and Bilsen, Johan and Cohen, Joachim and Onwuteaka-Philipsen, Bregje D and Mortier, Freddy and Deliens, Luc},
  issn         = {0820-3946},
  journal      = {CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION JOURNAL},
  keyword      = {COUNTRIES,PALLIATIVE CARE,FLANDERS,SEDATIVES,OPIOIDS,NETHERLANDS,END,MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS,OF-LIFE DECISIONS,NATIONAL-SURVEY},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {9},
  pages        = {895--901},
  title        = {Physician-assisted deaths under the euthanasia law in Belgium: a population-based survey},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.091876},
  volume       = {182},
  year         = {2010},
}

Altmetric
View in Altmetric
Web of Science
Times cited: