2019-128, due care criteria complied with

Straightforward notification, findings letter, decision not
to undergo treatment.

The patient, a woman in her sixties, was diagnosed nine years before her death with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Two years before her death, she had reached stage four of the disease (GOLD IV). She derived no benefit from extra oxygen. She also obtained insufficient relief from strong painkillers. After being admitted to hospital, the patient received round-the-clock care. She initially felt better as a result. Eventually she decided to forego treatment because it would only prolong the suffering. Her condition was incurable. She could only be treated palliatively.

The patient’s suffering consisted of extreme fatigue and shortness of breath. She had severe coughing fits during which she was afraid of suffocating. Everything drained her energy, energy which she no longer had. Essentially there was nothing the patient was capable of doing, while she had always been somebody who wanted to do everything herself. She suffered from her state of dependency and the fact that her condition could only deteriorate further. She did not wish to experience that deterioration. She experienced her suffering as unbearable.

The physician was satisfied that this suffering was unbearable to her and with no prospect of improvement according to prevailing medical opinion. There were no alternative ways to alleviate the patient’s suffering
that were acceptable to her.

The committee found that the physician had acted in accordance with the due care criteria.