Euthanasia process: Mechthild Bach commits suicide

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Mechthild Bach, a doctor accused of euthanasia, commits suicide with an overdose of morphine

Cancer doctor Mechthild Bach, charged with the death of thirteen patients, has committed suicide. A friend of the doctor found this on Monday in her home in Bad Salzdetfurth near Hildesheim.

The doctor stood before the Hanover Regional Court in a process that was unique in Germany and originally had to defend herself on suspicion of homicide. Even though euthanasia was quickly spoken of in the media and the general public, the doctor had always emphasized that she had not used any life-shortening measures on her patients. The treatment was exclusively for pain relief and pain relief, Bach said during the trial through her lawyer. However, the court found in an interim report after the first 50 days of the trial last week that there are even indications of murder in two of the cases to be heard. The threatened life imprisonment that caused the doctor to commit suicide, explained her lawyer Matthias Waldraff.

Cancer doctor procedure polarized society In 2005, the internist at the Paracelsus Clinic in Langenhagen near Hanover was on trial for the first time on suspicion of homicide. Even then, the process polarized society. Almost every day of the trial, supporters of the doctor gathered in front of the Hanover Regional Court and asked for posters to “acquit” and “die with dignity”. Because, in her view, the doctor had provided long-term care for the patient, which was difficult in the end, and did not willfully bring about the death of the patient through excessive doses of painkillers. Bach himself always emphasized that she only wanted to help the seriously ill patients with her treatment. The high doses of morphine and valium were used for pain relief and support and "under no circumstances did life-shortening medical treatment be done", as her defense lawyer explained last week. After the first trial was terminated due to the judge's illness, the Hanover Regional Court has been hearing the second edition of the trial since October 2009.

Euthanasia? - Judges see evidence of murder In a preliminary interim assessment last week, the court came to the conclusion that in the six cases previously discussed, it can be assumed that "the patients did not die of natural causes," said the chamber chair at the district court Wolfgang Rosenbusch . According to him, there are clear indications that the cancer doctor deliberately caused the death of the six patients by administering morphine and valium. "In addition, it has to be checked in two cases whether the homicide's murder feature is also present," added Rosenbusch. So far, none of the deaths in the Paracelsus clinic have shown any evidence that the patients had expressed the wish to die, the chamber chairman said. In the two particularly critical cases, the critically ill patients were also clearly conscious when they received the lethal dose of the pain reliever, the court said. Since the patients "knew nothing of these gifts" and could therefore have been defenseless and defenseless, insidious killing is also an option in the two cases mentioned and the medical doctor could face a conviction for murder, the chamber chairman explained last week.

Medical doctor with no prospect in view of the court's assessment After the announcement of the judicial interim balance sheet, his client was very depressed and had no prospect, Mechthild Bach's defense lawyer explained. The "surprising statement" by the court was "brutally perceived by his client", Matthias Waldraff continued. On the basis of this "balance sheet, it would either have been lifelong or would have taken 15 years," the lawyer said. In a three-hour conversation on Sunday, he tried to rebuild his client, "but after eight years of struggle she has not found this strength," explained Waldraff. In his opinion, Mechthild Bach would "still be alive without the court's interim balance sheet" because there is a causal relationship between the court's balance sheet and the hopelessness of his client. Before her suicide, she had sent a farewell email to close friends, in which she described her motives. In it, Mechthild Bach explained, among other things, that she could not imagine life without her patients, explained defender Matthias Waldraff on Tuesday. According to the police, his 61-year-old client had killed herself with an overdose of medication in her home in Bad Salzdetfurth near Hildesheim on Monday.

Disagreements to many people only by chance. Actually, the negotiation process for the internist's supposed euthanasia, which had been going on for 15 months, still had 38 negotiation days until 2012. Defense, prosecutor and co-litigation should comment on the court's interim balance on February 7. However, the procedure is ended with the doctor's suicide. The fact that the internist was even brought to trial was originally due to chance. During her time as an attending physician at the Paracelsus Clinic from 1987 to 2003, a group of investigators from the AOK, who was actually looking for accounting fraudsters, found disproportionately high morphine consumption in the cancer ward. In addition, the death rate was unusually high in the same period with 350 deaths in just five and a half years. The AOK then turned on the public prosecutor's office and initially reported 76 cases. This was the start of a discussion about euthanasia, accompanied by strong media interest, and Mechthild Bach's right, emphasized by everyone, to “experience his death with dignity and without fear.”

Critics criticized "autocratic behavior" Critics had repeatedly criticized the autocratic behavior of the doctor, who, for example, replied to the question of how she noticed that a person was dying: "I felt when a patient no longer had an aura, no energy fields. ”This also made the core problem of the discussion about euthanasia clear: who decides when and whether a person is on his last way. The regional court apparently came to a different result than the cancer doctor in the 13 deaths caused by a medication mix of valium and morphine of the patients between 52 and 96 years old and could not identify any euthanasia in any of the cases treated so far. Her lawyer Matthias Waldraff emphasized: "Your walking is not an admission of guilt."

Euthanasia in the discussion Overall, the discussion in Germany about euthanasia does not end with the death of the accused doctor. The legislation has been trying for years to develop a regulation in the interests of those affected. Most recently, a fundamental judgment of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) (file number: Bundesgerichtshof 2 StR 454/09) from June 2010 strengthened the patient's right to self-determination. The court ruled last year that (in the criminal law sense) appropriate patient consent justifies both refraining from further life support measures and actively ending or preventing treatment that the patient did not want or no longer wanted. For patients who are no longer able to give their consent, the request to discontinue life support measures given in a living will or in an oral statement may also be sufficient. However, the professional law of doctors regarding euthanasia is not yet based on this relatively new court decision. However, the German Medical Association (BÄK) plans to liberalize it. In 2001, the Netherlands was the first country in the world to enact a law regulating active euthanasia. (fp)

Also read:
Outrage at euthanasia clinic
Palliative medicine: doctors decide about death
Every third doctor is open to euthanasia
Ex-Justice Senator Kusch founds euthanasia e.V.
Suicide allowance schemes should be relaxed

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