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An example of a locked box that contains a lethal substance for euthanasia patients (ABC News)

A coroner will investigate how an elderly widower was able to keep possession of euthanasia drugs intended for a terminally ill partner for days after they were required to be returned, and instead took the lethal dose. Source: Courier-Mail.

The terminally ill partner had been approved to legally end their life in the first half of 2023 under Queensland’s Voluntary Assisted Dying laws; however, they died in hospital without taking the drugs, which had already been provided.

A pre-inquest conference heard the first action to recover the VAD substance occurred on the due date the drugs were to be returned, which was more than one week after the VAD patient died in the hospital.

Counsel assisting the coroner John Aberdeen told the pre-inquest conference held in Mackay, the elderly spouse had been told as part of the process before the VAD substances had been provided that it was a requirement to return them within 14 days if unused.

The court heard the VAD review board requested a follow-up about the unused substance on the morning of the final day it was due to be returned, which was more than one week after the death of the VAD patient.

A family member communicated that to the widower that it needed to be returned before leaving the home for several hours to run errands. Mr Aberdeen said when the family member returned the home was locked and secured – on gaining access the elderly spouse was found in their lounge chair unresponsive and the VAD kit was open. 

The elderly spouse was pronounced dead.

Central Coroner David O’Connell will investigate the entire process from the supply of the VAD substance until “its apparent consumption” by the elderly spouse.

The inquest will be held in Brisbane on February 20.


Inquest into voluntary euthanasia scheme after Qld widower’s death begins (Janessa Ekert, Courier-Mail)