Health inspectors to address doctors’ euthanasia fears

The health inspector is to hold talks with various groups involved in the care of terminally ill patients, following the suicide of a doctor under investigation for possibly failing to meet euthanasia guidelines.

Nico Tromp, a family doctor from the Noord Holland village of Tuitjenhorn, killed himself six days after being suspended over the death of a terminally ill patient.

Doctors’ organisations have raised concerns about the suspension, and the fact that Tromp’s house was raided late at night by four police officers.

‘The inspectors want to give clarity about their role and decision-making when it comes to ensuring the responsible care of terminally ill patients,’ the inspectors say in a website statement.

Widow

The widow of Theo Spaansen, the man helped to die by the doctor, is furious with the health ministry and says the doctor did his best with her husband.

‘Three days after the funeral, detectives were at my door. I had to go down to the police station,’ she told local broadcaster RTV Noord Holland. ‘We left at 14.45 and I was back home at 19.30. I had to go back again the next day.’

According to the Volkskrant, the alarm was raised by a student doctor who accompanied Nico Tromp on his rounds. The issue centres on the dose of morphine given Spaansen, who had cancer. He had been sent home from hospital because he wanted to die in familiar surroundings.

Requests

The number of people opting to die by euthanasia rose by 13% last year to 4,188, according to the regional committees charged with ensuring the legal conditions for assisted suicide are met.

In just 10 cases, the committees ruled doctors had not met all the conditions for assisted suicide and involved health ministry inspectors.

Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands under strict conditions. For example, the patient must be suffering unbearable pain and the doctor must be convinced the patient is making an informed choice. The opinion of a second doctor is also required.


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