Euthanasia declaration should be renewed regularly

A written euthanasia declaration should be renewed regularly to give doctors more certainty about their patients’ wishes, six doctors and scientists told Trouw on Tuesday.

In a statement published in the paper, they say written requests for euthanasia should be renewed every two years, particularly in cases of dementia.

The more recent the declaration, the easier it is for doctors to carry out the patient’s wishes. A recent declaration together with the opinion of family and carers would also help doctors in their decision to employ euthanasia in cases where the patient can no longer make an informed opinion.

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.

Last year, 4,188 people died by euthanasia. The majority were people with cancer: 3,251. In 42 cases, people with dementia were involved and 13 had severe psychiatric problems.