In the Netherlands, physicians are allowed to end a patient's life by committing euthanasia or assisting in suicide when they fulfill the statutory due care criteria. An important criterium is that the physician is convinced that the patient's suffering is hopeless and unbearable. Moreover, there is no reasonable alternative for the patient's situation.

Contrary to euthanasia and assisted suicide, palliative sedation has no primary intent to hasten the patient's death. The patient is put to sleep until he or she dies in order to alleviate suffering. In the Netherlands, palliative sedation is only allowed when the life expectancy is less than two weeks.

Pain management aims to reduce the patient's pain, for which physicians often use morphine. The morphine should not be used to hasten the patient's death (as with euthanasia) or put the patient to sleep (as with palliative sedation).

Finally, the patient can choose to stop eating and drinking. Voluntary stopping of eating and drinking is a way to end one's life and can be compared with refusing a treatment.


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Contact info

Erasmus School of Law
Burgemeester Oudlaan, Rotterdam
Tel. 010- 4081547