Belgian doctor charged with murder in the deaths of 9 patients

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On September 24, I reported that a Belgian doctor had been charged with murder in the deaths of four patients in the palliative care department of the CHR van Hoei Hospital.

HLN news has now reported that the doctor lost his contract with the hospital and has been charged with murder in the deaths of five more patients, making it a total of nine murder charges.

According to HLN news, the physician claims that the deaths were not murder but palliative sedation, more accurately referred to as terminal sedation.

The physician claims that he just wanted to stop the pain and these cases were not euthanasia.

Dr. Wim Distelmans, who is co-chair of the Belgian euthanasia control commission and operates a euthanasia clinic, told the Belgian news that palliative sedation is not regulated and occurs 4 times more often in Belgium than euthanasia. Distelmans stated (google translated)

“What happens too often is that doctors dramatically increase the doses of the drugs via the baxter to speed up the end of life. That’s hypocritical, because they say to the family, ‘We just keep him asleep.’ In fact, such a doctor puts an end to life. You can’t even call it euthanasia, because the patient didn’t ask for it. “

The intentional overdosing of palliative patients is common and is ethically the same as euthanasia. These cases represent instances of terminal sedation. These deaths then represent an abuse of palliative sedation. Palliative sedation, when done correctly and ethically, should not cause the death of the patient and should not be confused with murder.

A 2015 Belgian study showed that more than 1,000 people died an assisted death without request in 2013. Data, such as this, should create great concern, but in Belgium it has simply been a statistic. This case may begin to deal with the number of intentional deaths without consent that occur in Belgium.

I will continue to follow this case. Currently the court is not publishing the facts of around these cases.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.