Continuous deep sedation (CDS) is sometimes used to treat refractory symptoms in terminally ill patients. The aim of this paper was to estimate the frequency and characteristics of CDS in six European countries: Belgium, Denmark, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. Of all deaths, CDS was applied in 2.5% in Denmark and up to 8.5% in Italy. Of all patients receiving CDS, 35% (Italy) and up to 64% (Denmark and The Netherlands) did not receive artificial nutrition or hydration. Patients who received CDS were more often male, younger than 80 years old, more likely to have had cancer, and died more often in a hospital compared to nonsudden deaths without CDS. The high variability of frequency and characteristics of CDS in the studied European countries points out the importance of medical education and scientific debate on this issue.

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