A Dutch doctor who faced a trial for not doing enough to verify if the patient actually wanted to die, was acquitted of murder or any wrongdoing by her actions. The doctor, who has not been named, says she acted cautiously. Prosecutors say they were not seeking a prison sentence for the retired female doctor, but wanted to clarify how the euthanasia law applies to patients suffering from dementia.

The patient at the centre of the case was a 74 year old female who had left a will stating that she would accept euthanasia rather than go through a distressing time at the end of her life. As time progressed she stated that she would delay being euthanised. In response to being asked if she wanted to die she said: “But not just now, it’s not so bad yet!”, according to a report from the Dutch regional euthanasia review committee.

During the procedure the physician drugged the patient’s coffee without her knowledge and then had family members restrain the woman while delivering the fatal injection. Earlier reports on the prosecutions case revealed that the patient showed resistance during the process. Suzanne van de Vathorst, an associate professor who specializes in ethics and end-of-life issues at Erasmus University, said euthanizing patients with severe dementia puts a considerable burden on doctors.

Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, Columbia, Luxembourg and Canada, whilst assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands as well as eleven states in the USA.