Dementia patient “fought back” as doctor gave her lethal injection


A woman with dementia is reported to have tried to fight back as medics euthanized her. A doctor had already put a sedative in the woman’s coffee to keep her calm. However, she is said to have woken up as she was being given a lethal injection.

The patient, who is understood to have been over the age of 80, has earlier said that she wanted to be euthanized when the time was right. However, as her condition became much worse, she was no longer able to express her wishes, but senior medics at her nursing home felt that she had reached a point where she was suffering terrible.

According to reports, the woman’s family had to restrain her so a doctor could finish giving her the injection. The doctor is not believed to have spoken to the patient about what was about to happen because they did not want to cause her any further distress. Disturbingly, the patient said a number of times “I don’t want to die” in the days before she was euthanized.

The worrying case has been revealed in documentation prepared for a coroner in the Netherlands, where euthanasia is legal for adults deemed to be suffering unbearably, and who have no chance of getting any better.

Should have stopped

Each time such an incident takes place, the medics who perform the procedure have to prepare a report for the local coroner, which then is referred onto a regional review committee. The documentation does not name the patient or the doctor, nor does it say which area the patient was from. The review concluded that the doctor acted in good faith, but that she should have stopped when the patient resisted.

A spokesperson for the committee, Jacob Kohnstamn said that the case should go to court, not so the doctor involved could be punished, but to get clarity from the legal system over what powers a doctor has when it comes to euthanizing patients who have very severe dementia.