Doctor blamed for death of British assisted suicide companion

The Federal Supreme Court rejected the doctor's appeal against his guilty verdict. © Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

A British woman who accompanied her seriously ill mother to Switzerland for an assisted suicide died herself as a result of medical negligence, a court has ruled. The Federal Supreme Court upheld an earlier verdict of involuntary manslaughter against the doctor who treated the daughter at a Dignitas location.

This content was published on March 11, 2019 - 17:41

The tragedy took place in October 2016 at a Zurich-area apartment provided by Dignitas. It was here that the mother ended her life with the aid of the assisted suicide organisation.

However, her daughter fell ill at the apartment, vomiting for half an hour before a Dignitas staff member called for a doctor. A sedative was administered, but some hours later the woman experienced breathing difficulties before collapsing into a coma. She was rushed to hospital where she died.

A post-mortem examination found that the woman had suffered a brain haemorrhage – a result of malformed blood vessels that could have resulted in bleeding at any time. The public prosecutor’s office found the doctor at fault for offering an incorrect diagnosis and treatment. Prosecutors said the death could have been avoided with a timely admission to hospital.

The doctor appealed the decision first at the Zurich High Court and then at the Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne. On Monday, the Supreme Court threw out the doctor’s complaint that the prosecutor’s office had overstepped its authority by partially basing its decision on additional expert medical testimony.

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