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Palliative Sedation in the Netherlands

Palliative sedation is a normal medical practice in the Netherlands. It is defined as the lowering of consciousness in the last 2 weeks of life to reduce pain that is otherwise not controlled. This article is a review the national guidelines published in 2005. The Royal Dutch Medical association who created these guidelines want the term to be clearly “palliative sedation” so that the act of sedation is associated with its palliative effects at this stage in life. This report was published after some debate between palliative care and euthanasia. Palliative sedation does not shorten one’s life and does not need to be kept record of like euthanasia. In some cases palliative sedation can prolong one’s life and is irreversible unlike the termination of ones life. However, there are specific criteria and a pathway for discussion as outlines in this guideline that must be followed to ensure this is the patient or families wishes to have a safe medical practice.

Source: Legemaate J, Verkerk M, van Wijlick E, de Graeff A. Palliative sedation in the Netherlands: starting-points and contents of a national guideline. Eur J Health Law. 2007 Apr;14(1):61-73. doi: 10.1163/092902707x185451. PMID: 17566321

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