[Assisted suicide - medical, legal, and ethical aspects].

Research paper by G G Bosshard

Indexed on: 02 Feb '12Published on: 02 Feb '12Published in: Praxis


Unlike in most European countries, assisted suicide is not illegal in Switzerland. The number of assisted suicides procured by right-to-die organisations such as Exit or Dignitas has sharply increased in the last twenty years. Central part of the doctor's involvement is the prescription of a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital. In doing so, the doctor has to apply to the rules of medical due care. A proper examination of the patient is required, who must be informed about his diagnosis, about the expected prognosis, and about different treatment options. Verification of the patient's decisional capacity is crucial. In general, a staff member of the organisation but not the doctor is present during suicide. Following death, the assisted suicide has to be reported to the police as an extraordinary death case.