Are end-of-life practices in Norway in line with ethics and law?

Førde R, Aasland OG. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand 2014; 58 (9): 1146-50.

Published online(Epub 2014 Aug 14) doi: 10.1111/aas.12384.

Article in English.

Abstract on PubMed: BACKGROUND: End-of-life decisions, including limitation of life prolonging treatment, may be emotionally, ethically and legally challenging. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) are illegal in Norway. A study from 2000 indicated that these practices occur infrequently in Norway. METHODS: In 2012, a postal questionnaire addressing experience with limitation of life-prolonging treatment for non-medical reasons was sent to a representative sample of 1792 members of the Norwegian Medical Association (7.7% of the total active doctor population of 22,500). The recipients were also asked whether they, during the last 12 months, had participated in euthanasia, PAS or the hastening of death of non-competent patients. RESULTS: Seventy-one per cent of the doctors responded. Forty-four per cent of the respondents reported that they had terminated treatment at the family's request not knowing the patient's own wish, doctors below 50 and anaesthesiologists more often. Anaesthesiologists more often reported to have terminated life-prolonging treatment because of resource considerations. Six doctors reported having hastened the death of a patient the last 12 months, one by euthanasia, one by PAS and four had hastened death without patient request. Male doctors and doctors below 50 more frequently reported having hastened the death of a patient. CONCLUSION:Forgoing life-prolonging treatment at the request of the family may be more frequent in Norway that the law permits. A very small minority of doctors has hastened the death of a patient, and most cases involved non-competent patients. Male doctors below 50 seem to have a more liberal end-of-life practice.

Contact us for more information.