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Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Belgium: euthanasia instead of palliative care

Instances of legal euthanasia in Belgium have risen from 235 in 2003 to 705 in 2008. Of these, most are young, and 94% are suffering from pain as a result of cancer. Only a minority (18%) of the 1,917 people killed are over 80, and euthanasia is more widespread (83% of cases) in the Flemish part of Belgium than in the French part (17% of cases).

Dr. Bernard Devalois, a French specialist in palliative care, said:
This study shows that the majority of requests for euthanasia in Belgium are linked to unbearable physical pain and therefore to medical malpractice in the treatment of pain: cases of genuinely untreatable suffering - which we treat in France with sedation - are very rare.
Dr Devalois continued:
Upon reading this study, it seems that Belgium chooses to focus on general training in the use of products that cause the rapid death of the patient (barbiturates and muscle relaxants). The patient therefore has the choice between suffering or asking for euthanasia. I much prefer that he is offered a third choice: to be relieved of his pain! This is the path taken by France through the plan "Douleur et Soins Palliatifs" (Pain and Palliative Care)
Thanks to @AnnaArco on twitter for the link to this story from Belgium: De plus en plus d'euthanasies en Belgique.
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