Content analysis of euthanasia policies of nursing homes in Flanders

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 12 (3):313-322 (2009)
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Objectives To describe the form and content of ethics policies on euthanasia in Flemish nursing homes and to determine the possible influence of religious affiliation on policy content. Methods Content analysis of euthanasia policy documents. Results Of the 737 nursing homes we contacted, 612 (83%) completed and returned the questionnaire. Of 92 (15%) nursing homes that reported to have a euthanasia policy, 85 (92%) provided a copy of their policy. Nursing homes applied the euthanasia law with additional palliative procedures and interdisciplinary deliberations. More Catholic nursing homes compared to non-Catholic nursing homes did not permit euthanasia. Policies described several phases of the euthanasia care process as well as involvement of caregivers, patients, and relatives; ethical issues; support for caregivers; reporting; and procedures for handling advance directives. Conclusion Our study revealed that euthanasia requests from patients are seriously considered in euthanasia policies of nursing homes, with great attention for palliative care and interdisciplinary cooperation



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