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Does the Belgian model of integrated palliative care distort palliative care practice?

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[English] 02/12/2015
Author / source : Raphaëlle d'Yvoire

 

The purpose of this report is to describe the Belgian model of end of life care that, since 2002, has aimed at developing "palliative care for all", while nonetheless authorizing the practice of euthanasia under certain conditions.
The thirteen years since the passage of this decree have culminated in a clash between two opinions:
 * one affirms that the decriminalization of euthanasia has truly enabled the development of continuous, palliative care;

* the other, conversely, stresses that making euthanasia commonplace is cannibalizing, and, little by little, distorting the concept of palliative care, which, in principle, focuses on support until death, but without triggering it.

After we have explored the evolution of the philosophy of palliative care in Belgium, it will be useful to examine the consequences of this integrated approach, as much for the well-being of patients as for the proper practice of medicine and management of life’s end in health care institutions.