Nearly half of euthanasia deaths in Belgium hospitals are directed by nurses who have not received consent from the patient to administer life-ending drugs, the Vancouver Sun reported.

In interviews with 248 nurses, a fifth admitted they had taken part in a euthanasia procedure based on the “assumption” that the patient wanted to die. Almost half of the nurses confessed to “terminations without request or consent.”

When euthanasia was made legal in Belgium in 2002, the law stated two conditions — that the patient give consent and the life-ending drugs be administered by a doctor. But the study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found the euthanasia is commonly carried out by nurses, “operating beyond the legal margins of their profession.”

Euthanasia accounts for two percent of deaths in Belgium annually.

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