Tuesday 11 May 2021

Euthanasia clinic criticised for helping woman with severe tinnitus to die

A special clinic in The Hague, set up to help people whose doctors do not support euthanasia, has been reprimanded for helping a 47-year-old woman with chronic tinnitus to die, broadcaster Nos says on Monday.

The independent commission charged with monitoring how Dutch euthanasia rules are applied recognises that extreme tinnitus could be a reason for mercy killing but said Gaby Olthuis should have undergone further psychiatric research.

The public prosecution department and health ministry inspectors are assessing if anyone should face charges in connection with the case, the broadcaster says.

The clinic disagrees with the criticism and says the woman was properly assessed by a psychiatrist. Clinic director Steven Pleiter told NOS Radio 1 Journaal the woman did not have psychiatric problems. ‘She was suffering physically,’ he said.

Olthuis described the noise in her head as being like a permanent train with squealing brakes. The problem was so severe every noise she made, even opening a plastic bag, caused her agony.


The clinic was also criticised last year for the euthanasia of an elderly woman who did not want to go into a home and an elderly psyschiatric patient.

Since it was opened over two years ago, doctors at the clinic have carried out 250 euthanasia requests.

In order to qualify for euthanasia in the Netherlands, the patient must be ‘suffering unbearably’. Euthanasia has been legal since 2002 under strict conditions and with the approval of two doctors.

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