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Belgium: Euthanasia Doctors Split Over Psychiatric Illness

By Michael Cook
NRL News Today - October 30, 2017

Even the controversial head of Belgium’s euthanasia commission is concerned that a well-known Belgian psychiatrist is allowing too many of her psychiatric patients to be euthananised.

Psychiatrist Dr. Lieve Thienpont, right, speaks with a patient who received approval for euthanasia about a year ago.

Even the controversial head of Belgium’s euthanasia commission is concerned that a well-known Belgian psychiatrist is allowing too many of her psychiatric patients to be euthananised.

Dr. Wim Distelmans, an oncologist and the chair of the country’s euthanasia commission, has also helped to found a number of end-of-life clinics. He is euthanasia’s most prominent defender in Belgium. However, even he is alarmed at the policies followed by psychiatrist Lieve Thienpont.

According to an investigative report by Associated Press, backed up by a leak of confidential documents:

In 2015, Thienpont was the lead author of a paper published in the medical journal BMJ Open, tracking 100 of her patients who requested euthanasia between 2007 and 2011. Of those, 48 were granted.

Some doctors were stunned by the high number of requests Thienpont fielded and how many were approved. At some other major psychiatric centers in Belgium, doctors receive only a handful of such requests every year, of which perhaps about 10 to 30 percent are accepted, according to several psychiatrists who deal with such requests.

“That one single psychiatrist in Belgium has had such a major impact on the practice of euthanasia in psychiatric patients is very alarming,” said Dr. Stephan Claes, a psychiatrist at the University of Leuven.

In a February 13 letter, Distelmans told Thienpont that some of her patients may have been killed without meeting a legal requirement that an independent consultation be performed first.

Full article at NRL News Today


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