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Belgian Federal Review Commission published 2-yearly report on 2018-2019

The Belgian Federal Review Commission ( Commission fédérale de Contrôle et d’Évaluation de l’Euthanasie) published its report over 2018 and 2019.

Summary

The biennial report of the Federal Control and Evaluation Commission for Euthanasia (FCECE) is available on the website www.euthanasiecommissie.be, section publication. The report concerns the registration documents of the patients who underwent euthanasia in the period between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2019, examined by the Commission.

In the period 2018 – 2019, 5,015 cases of euthanasia were registered, of which 2 359 in 2018 and 2 656 in 2019. The vast majority of these documents were in Dutch. It mainly concerned patients between the ages of 60 and 89 years, there were slightly more female patients. Home was the main place of performance.

The main categories of conditions that gave rise to a request for euthanasia were either malignancies (cancers) or a combination of several serious and incurable conditions (polypathology) that were no longer amenable to improvement and that caused severe disabilities up to organ failure. Death was expected in the foreseeable future in the vast majority of patients (terminal patients). In the group of patients whose death was not expected in the foreseeable future (non-terminal patients), the patients suffering from polypathology are most strongly represented, while cancer patients were extremely rarely considered to be non-terminal.

Requests for euthanasia based on mental and behavioral disorders (psychiatric conditions such as mood disorders and cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease are collected in this group) remained exceptional (2.1% of all euthanasia). In all these cases, it could be established that the legal conditions had been met (a patient with a competence, a written request, a medically hopeless condition, unbearable, persistent and indefensible suffering caused by a serious and incurable disease, a repeated request.

In 2019, one registration document on euthanasia in judicious underage patients was registered.

The Commission considered that all statements received complied with the essential requirements of the law. Therefore, it was not necessary to send a file to the public prosecutor for further investigation.

The Commission also considers that the implementation of the euthanasia law in the past period has not given rise to major difficulties or abuses that would require legislative initiatives.

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