A Dutch doctor who ordered an elderly dementia patient’s family to hold her down as she was resisting being given a lethal euthanasia injection has been cleared of wrongdoing. Euthanasia doctors in the Netherlands are routinely cleared of wrongdoings, whatever the circumstances.
The case concerns a woman in her 70s, who was diagnosed with dementia four years ago. At the time she completed a living will, saying she did not want to go into a home and that she wished to die when she considered the time was right. After her condition deteriorated, she was nevertheless placed in a nursing home where she became fearful and angry and took to wandering through the corridors at night.
The nursing home doctor reviewed her case and decided that the woman was “suffering unbearably”, which meant that now was the right time for her to die.
She secretly put a sleep-inducing drug into the unsuspecting patient’s coffee in order to tranquillize her. Despite this, the woman woke up and fought desperately in an attempt not to be killed. The doctor therefore asked the relatives of the woman, who were accomplices in the killing, to restrain her while she administered the lethal injection.
The case prompted an official review by investigators but they found that the doctor did nothing wrong. The chairman of the review panel Jacob Kohnstamm said: “I am convinced that the doctor acted in good faith, and we would like to see more clarity on how such cases are handled in the future.”
The patient’s physical resistance against a lethal injection was to be considered, in the panel’s view, a symptom of her dementia rather than an expression of her will not be killed. (Indeed, one might conclude: the stronger the resistance, the stronger her dementia … and, hence, the more urgent to end her suffering…)
The Netherlands have legalized “euthanasia” for patients suffering from dementia one year ago. This means that these patients can now legally be killed against their will.