Belgium: nurses can refuse to “prepare patients” for euthanasia

Publié le 19 Jun, 2016

In Belgium, “only doctors can practice euthanasia”. However, “to gain time or out of habit”, some doctors prefer to “ask nurses” to “prepare a patient for lethal injection”. For instance, this involves setting up an infusion or any other type of “preparatory” or “delegated” procedure.


The Commission Technique de l’Art Infirmier (CTAI) (Technical Nursing Commission), after consulting the Commission Fédérale de Contrôle et d’Evaluation Euthanasie (CFCEE) (Federal Commission for the Control and Evaluation of Euthanasia) pointed out that “nurses cannot administer the lethal product themselves. However, ‘preparatory procedures such as setting up the infusion are not considered part and parcel of euthanasia per se’”. These preparatory steps can therefore be carried out by a nurse but this “is still an option, not an obligation”. A nurse “may refuse to step up the infusion”. The conscience clause provided for in the law dated 28 May 2002 can be exercised “by anyone involved in euthanasia”, especially nurses.

Institut Européen de Bioéthique (13/06/2016)

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