Dutch doctor accused of drugging elderly woman and euthanising her

Dutch euthanasia doctor is accused of drugging elderly woman’s drink and getting relatives to hold her down as she injected her, days after she said ‘I don’t want to die’

  • Doctor slipped sedative drugs into elderly women’s coffee before taking her life 
  • But the patient woke up and starting fighting doctor at care home in The Hague 
  • Doctor asked woman’s family to hold her down while she administered injection 

A Dutch euthanasia doctor has been charged with drugging an elderly woman’s drink and asking her family to hold her down as she was lethally injected.   

The female doctor is accused of secretly slipping Dormicum into the patient’s coffee to make her drowsy before ending her life in a care home in The Hague in 2016.

Whilst the elderly patient was receiving the lethal injection she woke up and began fighting the doctor.

A Dutch euthanasia doctor has been charged with drugging an elderly woman’s drink and getting family members to hold her down as she was lethally injected (file image)

An investigation showed that the only way the doctor could complete the injection was by getting family members to help restrain her.

It also revealed that the patient said several times ‘I don’t want to die’ in the days before she was put to death. 

It’s the first time prosecutors in the Netherlands have successfully charged a doctor with unlawfully ending a patients life since euthanasia was legalised in 2002. 

According to the Dutch Medical Complaints Board, the 74-year-old dementia-sufferer had earlier expressed a desire for euthanasia when ‘the time was right’ if she ever ended up in a care home.

The medical board reprimanded the doctor in July after concluding its investigation.

It found that even though the woman was suffering intolerably and there were no further treatment options, two key prerequisites mentioned in Dutch euthanasia law, they deemed that the doctor had acted carelessly by not asking the patient explicitly if she agreed with the euthanasia.

Whilst the elderly patient was receiving the lethal injection she woke up and began fighting the doctor (file image)

Medical paperwork showed that she often exhibited signs of fear and anger and would wander around the building at night. 

The nursing home’s senior doctor was of the opinion that the patient was suffering intolerably, but that she was no longer in a position where she could confirm that the time was now right for the euthanasia to go ahead.

However, the euthanasia doctor reportedly believed that the woman’s circumstances made it clear that the time was right for euthanasia. 

The doctor also did not tell her patient what was in her coffee as it was also likely to cause further disruption to the planned euthanasia process.


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The medical complaints board found that the advance directive of the OAP was contradictory and it should have never been read as a voluntarily and well-thought out wish to die.

The board added that the doctor made a mistake not discussing the use of a soporific in the patient’s coffee.

The medical complaints board ruled: ‘Given the irreversibility of ending a life and the ethical aspects linked to consciously ending the life of a fellow human being, a written euthanasia declaration should not leave any doubts for interpretation.’ 

The doctor, who retired a month after the euthanasia incident, has appealed the decision.

According to Dutch law, euthanasia is only legal as long as the doctor abides by the strict standards described in the ‘Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act’.

It’s the first time prosecutors in the Netherlands have successfully charged a doctor with unlawfully ending a patients life since euthanasia was legalised in 2002 (file image)

The Dutch law code reads: ‘Any person who deliberately terminates another person’s life at that person’s express and earnest request shall be liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding twelve years or a fifth-category fine. 

In 2017, the number of people in the Netherlands who legally ended their lives with medical assistance rose by eight per cent to 6,585. 

The figure for 2016 was 6,091. The increase was exactly 8.11 per cent.

According to the Euthanasia Review Committee, which checks after the event if each euthanasia process was performed according to the law, 90 per cent of those who underwent euthanasia had been suffering from incurable diseases such as cancer or muscle-wasting diseases such as ALS.

However, three patients in a severe state of dementia also chose to end their life, as did 166 who only had early symptoms of dementia. 

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