Almost half of deaths by euthanasia in Belgium have involved patients who have not explicitly requested their lives to be ended by a doctor, a study has suggested.
A fifth of nurses interviewed by researchers admitted that they had been involved in the euthanasia of a patient based on the “assumption” they would want to die. Nearly half of the nurses – 120 of 248 – admitted they had taken part in “terminations without request or consent”.
Euthanasia has been legal in Belgium since 2002. It accounts for two per cent of all deaths annually. The law states that patient consent must be given and that doctors must carry out the procedure. But the study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that the rules are routinely flouted and shows how doctors often delegate the administering of fatal drugs to nurses.