Officials in the Belgian city of Leuven are investigating about ten euthanasia cases which may not have been done legally.
The public prosecutor was tipped off by an anonymous letter to the De Standaard newspaper. Until the investigation has been completed, police are keeping mum.
The letter says: “Our family member passed away two years ago, and we were told that euthanasia was presumed to have been carried out without the doctors informing us or following the necessary procedure. This is a very traumatic experience for us.”
Doctors are not required to notify the family if a person wants to be euthanised, but various medical associations strongly recommend it.
Two doctors were named in the letter, both of them associated with nursing homes in the Emmaus group. The head of the group, a former federal minister, Inge Vervotte, confirmed that the two doctors work with the homes, but she insisted that stressed that the cases being investigated involved patients in their private practice, and not residents of the nursing homes.
Professor Wim Distelmans, Belgium’s chief euthanasia overseer, said that his committee is supposed to be informed about every case of euthanasia, but it doesn’t always happen. “Some doctors are happy to admit that,” he admitted.
“What doctors write down, we naturally take for granted as true,” he said. “Apart from that, and rightly so, everyone is free to file a complaint with the public prosecutor’s office if they think they have reason to.”"
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge
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