Intended for healthcare professionals


Dutch doctors to receive more clarity over use of advance euthanasia directives for patients with dementia

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 30 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3545
  1. Tony Sheldon
  1. 1Utrecht

Senior figures in Dutch medicine and politics are set to decide whether advanced euthanasia directives can, in practice, replace verbal requests if patients with dementia are no longer able to express their wishes.

Doctors in the Netherlands have expressed “difficulties” with this “grey area,” arguing that some communication is essential if they are to understand properly their patients’ suffering and wishes.

But eminent figures in medical ethics argue that doctors are placing themselves above the 2002 euthanasia law. This law states that doctors can act on an earlier advanced directive once a patient becomes incompetent. …

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