In a story Aug. 2 about euthanasia, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the study authors wrote that euthanasia and assisted suicide had become common practice. They were referring to certain medication methods used by physicians as becoming common practice, not to euthanasia and assisted suicide.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Euthanasia used for 4.5 percent of deaths in the Netherlands
Report shows euthanasia has become common in the Netherlands; accounts for 4.5 percent of deaths
By MARIA CHENG
AP Medical Writer
LONDON (AP) — Euthanasia has become a common way to die in the Netherlands, accounting for 4.5 percent of deaths, according to researchers who say requests are increasing from people who aren’t terminally ill.
In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country in the world that made it legal for doctors to help people die. Both euthanasia, where doctors actively kill patients, and assisted suicide, where physicians prescribe patients a lethal dose of drugs, are allowed. People must be “suffering unbearably” with no hope of relief — but their condition does not have to be fatal.
“It looks like patients are now more willing to ask for euthanasia and physicians are more willing to grant it,” said lead author Dr. Agnes Van der Heide of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam.
The 25-year review published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine is based on physician questionnaires. The use of morphine and sedation which might hasten death has become common practice in the Netherlands, the authors said in the report.
The review shows that in 1990, before it was legal, 1.7 percent of deaths were from euthanasia or assisted suicide. That rose to 4.5 percent by 2015. The vast majority — 92 percent — had serious illness and the rest had health problems from old age, early-stage dementia or psychiatric problems or a combination. More than a third of those who died were over 80.
Requests from those who aren’t terminally ill still represent a small share, but have been increasing, Van der Heide said.
“When assisted dying is becoming the more normal option at the end of life, there is a risk people will feel more inclined to ask for it,” she said.
About 8 percent of the people who died in 2015 asked for help dying, the review showed. Van der Heide said about half of all requests are approved now, compared with about a third in previous years.
Scott Kim, a bioethicist at the U.S. National…