Euthanasia ok’d for dementia patients who request it when lucid

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The Ministries of Public Health and Security and Justice updated their "guide" on euthanasia to give people suffering from severe dementia the option of euthanasia, even if they are unable to express the wish themselves. This is only possible if the patient wrote a declaration with his wish for euthanasia while he was still clearheaded, broadcaster NOS reports.

The new guide states that patients with severe dementia often do not seem to be suffering unbearably under their dementia, but they do suffer under the physical conditions that go along with it, such as severe anxiety and pain. "In those cases a doctor may give euthanasia, even if a patient can not make it clear in words or gesture. But there has to be a written request for euthanasia, that the patient drew up earlier."

The guide was updated to take away the uncertainty about the possibilities for euthanasia in dementia patients. According to the guide, doctors have given euthanasia to dementia patients with a previously written request a few times before. But if it is unclear whether such a request still exist at a time that a patient is unable to express himself, chances are that the doctor will not carry out euthanasia.

The guide includes a manual for drafting a euthanasia declaration. Patients are advised to to stay in discussion with their doctors about euthanasia to ensure that such a declaration is in place if they need it.

Earlier this week doctors federation KNMG demanded that doctors always have the ability to deny an euthanasia request. They do not want to be obligated to perform euthanasia whenever a patient requests it.