(Medical Xpress) — A Dutch doctor was acquitted Wednesday in a landmark trial that prosecutors and physicians hope will help clarify how the country’s 2002 euthanasia law can be applied to people with severe dementia.
The doctor, who was not named in court, was cleared of any wrongdoing in carrying out euthanasia three years ago on a 74-year-old woman. The patient was given fatal doses of drugs despite some indications she might have changed her mind since declaring in writing that she wanted euthanasia.
The court ruled that in rare cases of euthanasia that were being performed on patients with severe dementia — and who had earlier made a written request for euthanasia — the doctor “did not have to verify the current desire to die.”
Judges at The Hague District Court ruled that the doctor met all criteria for carrying out euthanasia under the Dutch law legalizing mercy killing by physicians. Applause broke out among the dozens of people who attended the hearing.