…As a doctor who trained in the Netherlands and practiced there for 22 years, I have seen the practice of euthanasia first hand. I also got a number of requests from patients to assist them with the active termination of their life. I have seen how this practice has changed over the past 30 years. I suggest that people who want to know more about this read the book by journalist Gerbert Mark van Loenen, Do You Call This a Life? Blurred Boundaries in The Netherlands’ Right-To-Die Laws.
The Dutch euthanasia practice resulted in a medical profession that lost its palliative care skills, compared with their British colleagues. When the Dutch medical association realised this, they developed a programme to improve palliative care skills of the doctors in the Netherlands.
Doctors and nurses can do much more today to alleviate all sorts of symptoms and suffering than they could in the past.
I fully agree with McKaiser that people should not die a horrible and painful death. No one in their right mind will argue that suffering is necessary and good for you. Doctors are called “to cure sometimes, to relieve often, and to comfort always”.
But we are not very good in the last two and that leads to a loss of trust in doctors and the health system and leads to requests for euthanasia. The request for euthanasia should be a signal to the clinician that the care and information given to the patient can and must improve.
Proper palliative care training should ensure that all healthcare workers have the basic palliative care skills. In my experience the people working in palliative care are among the most compassionate healthcare workers willing to go an extra mile.
When it comes to autonomy we should look at the definition [because] people can only make an informed decision when they are given all the information. Most of my patients were not aware which palliative care measures a doctor can take and were unaware of terminal sedation…
Read the full article at Mail & Guardian…