Key figures

People who die as a result of euthanasia/suicide assistance 2018: 6126 out of 153,000 (CBS) = 4%

A large part of the Dutch population supports the possibilities for euthanasia. For example, 88 percent think it is good that there is a euthanasia law and more than three-quarters can imagine that they themselves will ever use it, according to a study commissioned by the Ministry of Health.
More than half of the Dutch think that people with dementia, a psychiatric disorder or the elderly with a 'completed life' should be eligible for euthanasia at certain stages.

How the euthanasia law works

See the government’s website on euthanasia in the Netherlands:

Due care criteria euthanasia law

The statutory due care criteria say that the physician must:

  • be satisfied that the patient’s request is voluntary and well-considered;
  • be satisfied that the patient’s suffering is unbearable, with no prospect of improvement;
  • have informed the patient about their situation and prognosis;
  • have come to the conclusion, together with the patient, that there is no reasonable alternative in the patient’s situation;
  • have consulted at least one other, independent physician, who must see the patient and give a written opinion on whether the due care criteria set out above have been fulfilled;
  • have exercised due medical care and attention in terminating the patient’s life or assisting in the patient’s suicide.

Review procedure

Every euthanasia case is being reviewed by the Regional Euthanasia Review Committees (RTE) ( . They judge if the due care criteria are met. In case of the judgment  ‘due care criteria not complied with’, it normally is about one of the due care criteria that is not fully complied with.

The committee is obliged to send its findings to the Board of Procurators General and the Health Care Inspectorate. These authorities decide in accordance with their own powers and responsibility whether measures should be taken in respect of the physician and if so, which.

The review procedure can be found here in full:

Euthanasia cases judged as ‘due care criteria not complied with’

2018: 6x (<0.1%), of which dementia 1x (consultation with independent doctor)
2017: 12x (0.18%), of which 1x in the case of dementia (current case in court)
2016: 10x (0.16%), of which 1x in the case of dementia (exercise due medical care and attention)
2015: 4x (<0.1%), of which 0x in dementia
2014: 4 (<0.1%) of which 0x in dementia

How many cases judged as ‘due care criteria not complied with’ are still under investigation?

There are two that have been available since 2017. (Volkskrant 4 September 2019) Furthermore, there are continuous cases that RTEs judge as ‘due care criteria not complied with’ in investigations at the Public Prosecution Service, but they are dealt with quickly, usually with a sepot.

Euthanasia based on written advance directives

It is very rare for a doctor to base euthanasia solely on a written request for euthanasia, this happens only if the  patient is no longer able to make a well-considered request at the time. This has happened 18 times since 2002, with 15 cases involving advanced dementia. The remaining cases involved persons with aphasia after a stroke. Under the law, a written advance directive can replace an oral request if the patient is no longer able to communicate.

Basis for the euthanasia request (annual report 2018 RTE)

2.35% dementia
0.03% advanced dementia
1.10% psychiatry
3.35% accumulation of age complaints
65.65% cancer
15.62% other disorders (nervous system, heart / vascular system, lung, chronic pain)
12% combination of conditions

Over de NVVE

De NVVE is er voor iedereen die waardig wil sterven. Wij willen een optimale uitvoering van de euthanasiewet, vooral voor groepen die in de praktijk geen hulp krijgen, zoals mensen met dementie, chronisch psychiatrische patiënten en ouderen die vinden dat hun leven voltooid is.

Het Adviescentrum van de NVVE staat altijd voor zijn leden klaar. Wij zijn op werkdagen tijdens kantooruren bereikbaar voor al uw vragen over het (naderend) levenseinde.

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