Many U.K. Families are Not Told When
Doctors Deny Loved Ones Treatment, Report Has Found
According to a new report, more than a quarter of U.K. families are not
told when their loved ones are taken off of life support, reports the
Daily Mail. Researchers from the Royal College of Physicians and
the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute in Liverpool conducted an
audit of 4,000 patients put on the Liverpool Care Pathway, the
end-of-life care plan that has brought 'slow' euthanasia into Britain
through the back door.
The Pathway, approved by the National Health Service (NHS), allows
doctors to deny "treatment," including food and water, to patients they
deem incurable and put them in continuous deep sedation until they
die. According to the Daily Mail, this protocol is used in 300
hospitals and 560 care homes across the country.
According to the report, 28 percent of the patients' relatives were not
told that their loved one had been put on the pathway. In fact,
doctors are not required by law to consult patients' families -
Britain's 2005 Mental Capacity Act has given them the power to make
decisions on behalf of patients who they deem mentally incapable
without requiring them to heed the wishes of patients' families.
Social services and police have even been called to intervene in
certain cases where families attempt to save the lives of their loved
Peter Millard, emeritus professor of geriatrics at the University of
London, confirmed other reports that the protocol is being used to kill
patients that are not actually dying. "The risk as this is rolled
out across the country is that elderly people with chronic conditions
like Parkinson's or respiratory disorders may be dismissed as dying
when they could still live for some time," he told the Daily
Mail. "Discussions about the future of patients are being
bypassed; the supportive nature of hospitals has gone. We are hearing
complaints from all round the country.
"Governments have got rid of respite care and geriatric wards, so we're
left with a crisis," he continued. "The Government has said let's
develop a service to help people die at home - what they should be
doing is helping them live. Only when death is unavoidable should you
start withdrawing treatment."
"The problem is that there isn't enough discussion between doctors and
patients and their relatives," he said. "Nobody is talking to
The average age of the 4,000 patients audited was 81. Thirty-nine
per cent had cancer, and others had conditions such as dementia,
stroke, pneumonia, organ failure, and dementia. Patients averaged
33 hours on the pathway before death.
The BBC reported last month that continuous deep sedation is
increasingly being used by U.K. doctors to slowly euthanize their
patients. The practice of continuous deep sedation is estimated
to be associated with 16.5 percent of all deaths in the country.
While, according to Euthanasia Prevention Coalition executive director
Alex Schadenberg, the practice of deep sedation can legitimately be
used to alleviate pain in certain extreme cases, he also warns that it
"can be a backdoor route to euthanasia if it is used
unethically." Schadenberg told LifeSiteNews.com last month that
"a good palliative care physician won't use the technique very often."
Contact: Patrick B. Craine
Date: September 15, 2009
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