'Sedation as alternative to euthanasia'
There are indications that doctors have been using sedation as an alternative for euthanasia, a study published today shows.21 March 2008
ROTTERDAM – There are indications that doctors have been using sedation as an alternative for euthanasia. This has emerged from a study published in the British Medical Journal on Friday by doctor Judith Rietjens of the Rotterdam Erasmus Medical Centre.
In palliative sedation a terminal patient is administered medicine to gradually put them in a deep sleep from which he or she never awakes.
State secretary for Public Health Jet Bussemaker denied this week in Parliament that doctors use sedation in order to avoid performing euthanasia.
A doctor does not have to start any special legal procedure in order to use sedation. Special legal steps are necessary in the case of euthanasia. Moreover sedation takes a more natural course; it cannot be said in advance when the patient will die.
In euthanasia there is a direct connection between the doctor's actions and the death of the patient. Many doctors have major reservations about performing euthanasia. They find it unpleasant and worry about possible legal consequences.
Rietjens argues for more investigation into the use of sedation, among doctors, patients and family members of terminally ill patients.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2008]