Doctors should care for people who choose to die by starvation, says Dutch Medical Association

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 20 January 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g331
  1. Tony Sheldon
  1. 1Utrecht

Elderly people who deliberately choose to stop eating and drinking in order to die more quickly have a right to the appropriate care from their doctor, say new professional guidelines from the Dutch Medical Association.

The association said that only on limited occasions may doctors refer such patients to other carers on the grounds of conscience. It said that treatment must then continue until the referral.

The “concept guidelines” currently being considered by the association’s members accepted that the withdrawal of food and fluids could be a humane way to die, on the basis of scientific literature. They did not regard these cases as assisted suicide but more akin to patients exercising their right to refuse life prolonging …

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