‘Physicians find euthanasia often have a hard time’

‘Physicians find euthanasia often have a hard time’

The Dutch Association for a Voluntary end of Life (NVVE) hopes that ‘the week of the euthanasia’ this week the subject is more openly discussed, including euthanasia of young people.

“Of course it’s going to incidental cases”, says Robert Schurink, director of the NVVE on euthanasia for young people. The association provides education and information about euthanasia and assisted suicide, providing statements with respect to a voluntary end of life.

“In the period 2002-2015 was a seven-euthanasia-performances by young people under the age of eighteen years. Nevertheless, it plays the theme well, also by programs if Over My dead Body.”

Children from twelve years of age can euthanasia requests, says Schurink. “Up to sixteen years is, however, the consent of the parents or guardian. Young people of sixteen and seventeen years to take the decision in the first instance itself. Doctors, the parents must always be in the decision process.”

“From eighteen years can someone to euthanasia questions. The doctors need the parents or guardians are not with the request to involve. For a euthanasieverzoek, there must be a medical diagnosis and unbearable suffering. But the majority of requests are made by patients over the forty years.”


There must be a case of hopeless suffering, which is to say that with treatment, no improvement more attainable in the condition of the patient. From a medical opinion must demonstrate that the situation is indeed not to improve. “For young people with psychiatric problems is this statement less often than in older patients.”

The majority of the euthanasieaanvragen is done by cancer patients (73 percent, 9.5 percent of all deaths with cancer). But also dementia (1.9%) and stacking of ouderdomsaandoeningen (3.3 percent) may be a reason to decide to levensbeëindiging.

According to the NVVE must for the elderly with a deliberate death wish also be possible to euthanasia. A levenseindebegeleider according to a by the government, announced law needs review and testing, what turned out to be controlled by a regional evaluation committee.

D66 resulted in the wetvoorstel Law Complete Life. Schurink think the law is going to come, because the majority of the political parties are positive on the proposal responded. When there is a definite answer, depends on the composition of the new cabinet.

Complex request

Euthanasia is in most cases (90 percent) performed by the gp. A doctor is not obliged to levensbeëindiging to perform. “Often they find it difficult,” says Schurink. “For example, when a complex request, or euthanasia as a result of mental health problems.”

“Therefore, a doctor or the patient to ask for help to a consultant of the Levenseindekliniek, which the physician assists or euthanasia takes over.” In 2015 there was a 5.516 time euthanasia is performed. 6.8 percent of it was done by a doctor of the Levenseindekliniek.

Would Schurink like to see a verwijsplicht, which physicians – if they euthanasia for any reason you do not want to perform – their patient should redirect to. “That is a moral duty, but not mandatory. Many patients are not sufficiently informed, but you have to have your own patients, not in the cold.”

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