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Dutch doctors choose sedation rather than euthanasia

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 12 August 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:368
  1. Tony Sheldon
  1. Utrecht

    Dutch doctors are sedating many terminally ill patients until death, in some cases without artificial feeding or hydration. Researchers estimate that terminal sedation occurred in about 10% of the total 14 000 deaths in 2001 (Annals of Internal Medicine 2004;141:178-85).

    As sedation is considered normal medical treatment, doctors are not legally obliged to report their actions as they must in euthanasia. But terminal sedation is now seen as an alternative to euthanasia for many patients.

    In most cases, the doctors' first aim was to alleviate symptoms, but in 17% of cases was an explicit intention to hasten …

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