Intended for healthcare professionals


Dutch doctors complain about long wait for judgments in cases of euthanasia

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 12 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5768
  1. Tony Sheldon
  1. 1Utrecht

Doctors in the Netherlands who carry out voluntary euthanasia must wait up to eight months before knowing whether they face a criminal investigation after an “enormous” rise in numbers of cases has swamped an already stretched reporting system.

The Dutch Medical Association describes the situation as “serious,” with “unrest” among doctors. One doctor had written complaining that his euthanasia report this summer would not be considered until April.

Under the 2002 law doctors have a legal obligation to report voluntary euthanasia (where a doctor ends a patient’s life at his or her explicit request) and assisted suicide (where the patient takes a deadly drug but the doctor assists) to one of five regional assessment committees consisting of a …

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