None of the 26 requests for euthanasia for people with very severe dementia made to a special Dutch clinic were carried out, according to a report in medical magazine Medisch Contact.
Between January 1 2012 and May 1 2015, official guardians made requests to help 26 patients who had become incapable of asking for themselves, the report says. All the patients had signed a euthanasia declaration before they became seriously ill.
Euthanasia is allowed in the Netherlands under strict conditions. The patient must be suffering unbearably and the doctor must be convinced the patient is making an informed choice.
In 25 cases, doctors at the special clinic ruled that even though communication was possible with the patient, they could not indicate whether they still wished to die or not. In addition, in all 25 cases doctors said the patient could not be described as suffering unbearably.
In one case, doctors agreed to help the patient but they died of natural causes before euthanasia could be carried out.
Earlier this month, the government said the guidelines for performing euthanasia on people with severe dementia have been relaxed a little so that patients can be helped to die even if they are incapable of making their current feelings known.
However, they will have to have signed a euthanasia declaration with their family doctor before they became seriously ill to be considered for help in dying.
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