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One Belgian dies each day from euthanasia procedures

Published on 21/04/2005

21 April 2005

BRUSSELS – About one person dies from euthanasia every day in Belgium, a government body monitoring the controversial medical practice has revealed.

The Federal Control and Evaluation Commission for Euthanasia was established in September 2002 when a law was introduced on the decriminalisation of euthanasia in Belgium.

In an initial report after its first 15 months of existence, the Commission registered some 259 cases of euthanasia. This translates into an average of 20 cases of euthanasia per month.

The Commission now counts an average of 30 registered cases of euthanasia per month, French-language daily La Libre Belgique reported Thursday.

But this does not necessarily mean that there has been an actual increase in deaths by euthanasia.

Each case of euthanasia must, in theory, be subjected to a registration document sent by the physician to the Commission. But many are still reluctant to take this step, and not all cases of euthanasia are declared.

Such bureaucratic burdens that can stall the process and prolong patient suffering are frowned upon by some doctors. Others may still fear future legal recriminations if the fledgling law were to be changed.

Some 80 percent of cases are reportedly recorded in Dutch-speaking Flanders, compared to a 20 percent in French-speaking Wallonia.

The reason for this difference is anyone’s guess.

One reason could be that a group of some 200 general practitioners and hospital physicians called LEIFartsen exists in Flanders to advise colleagues on end-of-life care for patients.

Initial hesitance in reporting a specific medical practice was also observed in Belgium in the early 1990s, after abortion had been partially decriminalised.

About 60 percent of euthanasia deaths in Belgium are administered in hospitals, while the rest generally occur at patients’ homes.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject : Belgian news