Medic is under investigation after report finds drug was also slipped into the woman’s drink
Daniel Boffey in Brussels
A doctor is under criminal investigation over a potential breach of Dutch euthanasia laws after slipping a sleeping drug into a woman’s coffee before asking family members to hold her down to allow the insertion of a drip through which a fatal dose could be administered.
The Dutch medical complaints board has reprimanded the doctor, who retired in after her treatment of the 74-year-old patient, who had been suffering from severe dementia. The chief public prosecutor in The Hague is examining if there are grounds for criminal charges.
Should a prosecution be launched, it would be the first since Dutch laws on euthanasia were relaxed in 2002 to allow a doctor to euthanise a patient if it could be shown they were in unbearable suffering and making an informed choice to die.
The law was further relaxed in 2016, to allow doctors to administer a fatal drug to a patient with dementia if they had signed a euthanasia declaration under the supervision of their family doctor before their condition had deteriorated.
The doctor under investigation, who was not named, has been found to have breached official guidelines in her treatment of the patient.
The patient had been placed in a nursing home in Mariahoeve in The Hague after her condition became significantly worse, and it was there that a review by the on-site doctor concluded the woman was suffering unbearably from her condition.
The unnamed patient had completed a living will five years prior to her death, saying she wished to die when she considered the time was right, but it was not a formal euthanasia declaration.
A drug designed to make the patient sleep was put in her coffee, in breach of rules, it was found. The doctor, who is appealing against the ruling, also ignored the woman’s protests and inserted a drip into her arm, it was found. She further breached guidelines by asking family members to hold the patient down, according to an official report into the death.