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According to a study by INED (National Institute for Demographic Studies), between a quarter and a half of deaths in Europe will have followed a medical intervention, which could have shortened life.

Carried out in Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland in 2001/2 this study shows that these deaths, all of which concerned only the very old, were mainly due to the administration of pain-relieving treatments which can curtail life (e.g. 19% in Italy, 26% in Denmark).

Medical decisions made with the specific intention of hastening death (i.e. cessation of treatment or administration of lethal substances) affected – 2% of deaths in Italy and 21% in Switzerland.

Patients and their families were in most cases involved in the decision-making – 68%
in Italy, 95% in the Netherlands.

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