AMSTERDAM — A Dutch woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, described by a “euthanasia review” panel as a “controlling” woman who caused trouble on her nursing home ward, was slipped a tranquilizer in her coffee — and her family members were asked to restrain her when she resisted a doctor giving her a fatal dose of medication.
In a case that was first reported by the Daily Mail, the woman in her 70s fought back against being killed by the lethal administration of drugs in a care facility in the Netherlands. The Dutch Regional Review Committee exonerated the doctor, who they said acted in “good faith.” But the case is one of 10 from 2016 that were sent to the inspector general for health and public prosecutor’s office seeking clarification on how doctors should proceed in similar situations in the future.
The unidentified patient was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease four years ago and wrote a living will, saying she did not want to go into a care home and that she wished to die when she considered the “time was right.”
Her condition deteriorated to the point where, according to her aging husband, he was unable to care for her full time and had her admitted to a nursing home, where she told staff that she wished to die, “but not now.” Although one doctor reported finding her “cheerful and peaceful,” other doctors said she was “gloomy” and “hopeless.”
A translation of the review describes her as a “small, resolute woman who had worked with children in the past” and who, on her nursing home ward, was continuously “directing and instructing the inmates, as if they were children.”
The woman was content and peaceful when her husband or an adult child visited her. However, she became fearful and angry if she couldn’t find her husband, and she would wander the corridors looking for him.
No ‘Cold Feet’
According to the report, her husband made the decision with the doctor that she was ready to die, although the report is clear that the patient had “never verbally requested euthanasia.”
The doctor ordered a sleeping drug called Dormicum for the patient’s cup of coffee, which she was not told about because she would have objected. She sat with her husband and adult son and his partner for an hour and 45 minutes after drinking the laced coffee, but the drug failed to put her to sleep. Instead, she was excited and made plans to spend the afternoon with them going out to eat.