Doctor faces murder investigation after euthanasing patient in Namur

Doctor faces murder investigation after euthanasing patient in Namur
A doctor at Namur's regional hospital is facing murder charges after euthanising a patient in June. Credit: Google Street View

A doctor in Namur has been suspended and a murder investigation opened after a patient in a regional hospital in was euthanised in June.

An unidentified male patient in the Namur Regional Hospital Centre (CHR) was euthanised on 17 June, despite an appeal reportedly filed by the man's daughter to push back the date of the act.

The appeal was filed days before the date originally set by hospital staff for the procedure, after the man's daughter judged that he was not capable of giving his consent, according to RTBF.

Additional medical opinions were sought and the doctor in question, unidentified, concluded that his patient's will to be medically assisted in dying was "conscious and maintained" and that there was no evidence of "exterior pressure."

Despite a judge issuing a request for the doctor to postpone the procedure and for a psychiatric examination of the patient to be conducted, the man was euthanised as scheduled on 17 June.

After the procedure, police came to the hospital to seize the patient's file and authorities opened a criminal murder investigation, the outlet reports.

With a criminal investigation ongoing, the doctor was suspended from the hospital, which did not immediately reply to a request for comment, but which reportedly declared that the doctor complied with legislation on euthanasia.

Euthanasia has been legal in Belgium since 2002, and a survey published in 2010 showed that the frequency of reported cases of the act had "increased every year since legalization," with a majority of patients undergoing the procedure being young cancer patients.

Legislation governing euthanasia requires a doctor to ensure that a patient's request is "entirely voluntary," as well as to jointly conclude with them that there are "no other viable solutions" for their situation.

Additionally, a doctor external to the case must also be consulted and is required to study the patient's medical file and assess whether their physical or psychological suffering can be qualified as "constant, unbearable and unappeasable."

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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