Euthanasia rarely approved for advanced dementia patients

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Euthanasia requests from people with advanced dementia are hardly ever honored, even if they drew up a written request when they were still lucid, according to a study done into the records of 26 legally incompetent dementia patients, news wire ANP reports.

The records were sent in to the Stichting Levenseindeklinkie, End of Life Clinic Foundation in English, between March 2012 and May 2015. In each of these cases an authorized representative submitted a request for euthanasia.

The clinic did authorized non of these requests. In almost all cases the clinic concluded that there was no "unbearable suffering", regardless of whether the patient previously called the situation unbearable. In addition to that, none of the patients could confirm the wish for euthanasia, although they were still able to communicate verbally or non-verbally.

The study, led by emeritus professor of medicine Arie Nieuwenhuijzen Kruseman, will be published in Medisch Contact this week, two weeks after the Ministry of Health published the "Guide to  a written request for euthanasia". The guide states that euthanasia may be granted to people with advanced dementia, if there is a written requests prepared while the patient was still mentally competent, and their suffering is unbearable.