Man Misdiagnosed With Cancer Dehydrated to Death

The UK’s Liverpool Care Pathway has apparently killed its first (reported) victim.  The Pathway treats dying patients as members of a category instead of as individuals. Rather than give patients the individualized treatment their respective symptoms and conditions warrant, the Pathway sedates patients thought to be near death, and withholds food and fluids until death.  About 16.5% of deaths in the  UK are now, apparently, via the Pathway, a far higher percentage than hospice professionals tell me require sedation to control symptoms.

Yesterday, I reported on a case in which a woman misdiagnosed as dying, was spared dehydration only due to the persistence of her daughter. I asked at the time, how many other such cases there are? We now know of at least one–only the ending wasn’t happy.  A man misdiagnosed with recurrent cancer was apparently sedated and dehydrated to death. From the story:

    A grandfather who beat cancer was wrongly told the disease had returned and left to die at a hospice which pioneered a controversial ‘death pathway’. Doctors said there was nothing more they could do for 76-year-old Jack Jones, and his family claim he was denied food, water and medication except painkillers. He died within two weeks. But tests after his death found that his cancer had not come back, and he was in fact suffering from pneumonia brought on by a chest infection. To his family’s horror, they were told he could have recovered if he’d been given the correct treatment.

    Today, after being given an £18,000 pay-out over her ordeal, his widow Pat branded his treatment ‘barbaric’ and accused the doctors of manslaughter.

If the charges are true, at the very least this is negligent homicide!  What does the hospice have to say?

    Mrs Jones believes her husband was treated under the Liverpool Care Pathway, but insiders said it was only implemented after he died to help provide comfort to his wife and daughters.

What? A care plan was implemented after he died? That makes zero sense.  There needs to be an urgent criminal investigation to find out what’s what.

The bigger question is whether the Pathway will be curtailed so that the lives of other patients are not endangered or cut off from being lived to the last drop by being treated via checklist as members of a category. I doubt it.  In the UK–where the NHS is melting down and utilitarian bioethicists have been handed tremendous control over the ethics of care–I am beginning to suspect that the very sick, disabled, and elderly are looked upon as burdens that society can no longer afford.

Contact: Wesley J. Smith
Source: Secondhand Smoke
Publish Date: October 12, 2009
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