Assisted suicide can lead to ‘inhumane’ deaths when the drugs don’t work quickly enough or cause unpleasant side effects, experts have warned.
The practice is hotly debated but illegal in the UK, but it’s legal in some US states, Canada and European countries including the Netherlands and Belgium.
Patients may be given or take a drug or pill to induce unconsciousness and then death.
But, despite the aim for death to be painless and without distress, a review has found this is not always the case.
Patients may have difficulty taking doses, either by swallowing or due to vomiting, and some have awoken from a coma or taken up to a week to die, evidence shows.
International researchers have said there should be more measures to confirm a person is not ‘accidentally aware’ as they die…
The review, of which Professor Jaideep Pandit, a consultant anaesthetist at Oxford University Hospitals was a senior author, was reported in the British Medical Journal.
Patients are usually given barbiturates – strong sedatives – which knock them out and eventually cause the lungs and heart to stop.
But the report found complications including difficulty in swallowing the prescribed dose (up to nine per cent) and vomiting in 10 per cent, both of which can prevent proper dosing.
Re-emergence from a coma occurred in two per cent of cases, with a small number of patients even sitting up during the dying process, the authors said.
‘This raises a concern that some deaths may be inhumane,’ the researchers reported in the journal Anaesthesia…
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