Active Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide in Dutch Nursing Homes: Patients' Characteristics
Muller, Martien T.
van der Wal, Gerrit
van Eijk, Jacques Th.M.
Ribbe, Miel W.
Age and Ageing. 1995 Sep; 24(5): 429-433.
We wished to obtain information about the principal and subsidiary diagnoses, sex, age, marital status, religion and background characteristics of Dutch nursing home patients to whom euthanasia/assisted suicide (EAS) was administered. We performed an exploratory, descriptive, retrospective study involving all Dutch nursing home physicians (NHPs) who in September 1990 were members of the Dutch Association of Nursing Home Physicians (NVVA; n = 713). An anonymous printed questionnaire in two parts was used. Part 1 was intended for all respondents and was expected to give insight into the nature and extent of EAS in Dutch nursing homes. Part 2 was intended only for respondents who had indicated in part 1 that they had administered EAS. They were asked to describe their last case of EAS. The study covered the period from 1986 to mid-1990. There was an 86% response. The respondents described 86 cases of EAS. Sixty-nine of these took place in a nursing home. The majority of patients to whom EAS was administered were suffering from a malignant neoplasm (53%). EAS was administered more often to men than to women. The average age of the patients was 70.9 years. When EAS was administered, the patients on average had been in the nursing home for 13.1 months. Dutch nursing home patients who were given EAS differed in various respects from 'the average nursing home patient'. The principal diagnosis for patients who were given EAS was a malignancy, whereas relatively few physically ill nursing home patients die as a result of a malignancy. The patients to whom EAS was administered were younger and more often male. EAS patients had been in the nursing home for a shorter time than the other somatic (physically disabled) patients who died during the study period.
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