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Dutch experience of monitoring active ending of life for newborns.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20338936     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Process    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
INTRODUCTION: In 2007, a national review committee was instituted in The Netherlands to review cases of active ending of life for newborns. It was expected that 15-20 cases would be reported. To date, however, only one case has been reported to this committee. Reporting is essential to obtain societal control and transparency; the possible explanations for this lack of reporting were therefore explored.
METHODS: Data on end-of-life decision-making were scrutinised from Dutch nation-wide studies (1995, 2001 and 2005), before institution of the committee. Physicians received a questionnaire about their medical decision-making for stratified samples of deceased infants up to 1 year, drawn from the central death registry.
RESULTS: In 2005, 58% of all deaths were preceded by an end-of-life decision, compared with 68% in 2001 and 62% in 1995. The use of drugs with a possible life-shortening effect tended to be lower. In 2005, all four cases in the study in which an infants' life was actively ended were preceded by a decision to forego life-prolonging treatment. In three cases, the infant's life expectancy was short; one case involved a longer life expectancy.
DISCUSSION: The expected number of cases is probably an overestimation due to changes in medical practice such as the tendency to attribute less life-shortening effects to opioids. The lack of reports is probably also associated with requirements in the regulation; it may be difficult to fulfil them due either to time constraints or the nature of the suffering that is addressed. If societal control of active ending of life is considered useful, changes in the regulation may be needed.
Authors:
Hilde M Buiting; Maartje A C Karelse; Hens A A Brouwers; Bregje D Onwuteaka-Philipsen; Agnes van der Heide; Johannes J M van Delden
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of medical ethics     Volume:  36     ISSN:  1473-4257     ISO Abbreviation:  J Med Ethics     Publication Date:  2010 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-03-26     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7513619     Medline TA:  J Med Ethics     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  234-7     Citation Subset:  E; IM    
Affiliation:
Erasmus MC, Department of Public Health, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam 3000 CA, The Netherlands. h.buiting@erasmusmc.nl
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