New testimony from a doctor in England shows the Liverpool Care Pathway is being used for infants and severely-disabled newborn babies. The pathway has been attacked by pro-life critics as a gateway to euthanasia because it involves the practice of withdrawing food and fluid delivered by a feeding tube.
The doctor’s testimony is prompting outrage from parents worried that they will be pressured to put their disabled infants on it.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, the unnamed doctor described the end-of-life procedures used in the case of a baby born with “a lengthy list of unexpected congenital anomalies.” The doctor indicated he presided over ten such cases in the neo-natal unit of one hospital alone and he goes into excruciating detail how the process could take an average of ten days during which the infant becomes “smaller and shrunken.”
In one case, the parents put their child on the Liverpool Care Pathway and wished for the infant to “die quickly.”
“Their wishes, however, are not consistent with my experience. Survival is often much longer than most physicians think; reflecting on my previous patients, the median time from withdrawal of hydration to death was ten days,” the doctor wrote. “Parents and care teams are unprepared for the sometimes severe changes that they will witness in the child’s physical appearance as severe dehydration ensues. I know, as they cannot, the unique horror of witnessing a child become smaller and shrunken, as the only route out of a life that has become excruciating to the patient or to the parents who love their baby.”
The London Daily Mail newspaper reported on this and said, “The LCP – on which 130,000 elderly and terminally-ill adult patients die each year – is now the subject of an independent inquiry ordered by ministers.”
The Liverpool Care Pathway has been accused of fostering the deaths of as many as 130,000 patients prematurely because of overcrowding at hospitals, medical clinics and nursing homes.
Professor Patrick Pullicino indicated doctors are turning to a so-called “death pathway” protocol that is essentially active euthanasia of patients, according to a London Daily Mail news report. Pullicino, a consultant neurologist for East Kent Hospitals and Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Kent, made his remarks in a speech before the Royal Society of Medicine in London.
He claimed there was often a lack of clear evidence for initiating the Liverpool Care Pathway, a method of looking after terminally ill patients that is used in hospitals across the country. It is designed to come into force when doctors believe it is impossible for a patient to recover and death is imminent.
It can include withdrawal of treatment – including the provision of water and nourishment by tube – and on average brings a patient to death in 33 hours. There are around 450,000 deaths in Britain each year of people who are in hospital or under NHS care. Around 29 per cent – 130,000 – are of patients who were on the LCP.
Professor Pullicino claimed that far too often elderly patients who could live longer are placed on the LCP and it had now become an ‘assisted death pathway rather than a care pathway’. He cited ‘pressure on beds and difficulty with nursing confused or difficult-to-manage elderly patients’ as factors.
Pullicino admitted patients are too quickly put on the pathway who need basic medical treatment and have long lifespans ahead of them. He said he personally intervened to take a patient off the LCP who went on to be successfully treated and told the paper it is “palpably false” that all patients subjected to euthanasia have a grim medical prognosis.
In the example he revealed a 71-year-old who was admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia and epilepsy was put on the LCP by a covering doctor on a weekend shift.
Professor Pullicino said he had returned to work after a weekend to find the patient unresponsive and his family upset because they had not agreed to place him on the LCP.
‘I removed the patient from the LCP despite significant resistance,’ he said.
‘His seizures came under control and four weeks later he was discharged home to his family,’ he said.
The revelations are not new, as NHS has long been a focus of criticism from pro-life advocates for euthanasia and rationing medical care or basic needs like food and water.
A May 2011 story in the Daily Mail showed how patients were being starved and dehydrated to death.
Doctors are prescribing drinking water for neglected elderly patients to stop them dying of thirst in hospital. The measure – to remind nurses of the most basic necessity – is revealed in a damning report on pensioner care in NHS wards. Some trusts are neglecting the elderly on such a fundamental level their wards could face closure orders.
The snapshot study, triggered by a Mail campaign, found staff routinely ignored patients’ calls for help and forgot to check that they had had enough to eat and drink.
Dehydration contributes to the death of more than 800 hospital patients every year.Another 300 die malnourished. The latest report – by the Care Quality Commission – found patients frequently complained they were spoken to in a ‘condescending and dismissive’ manner.
The watchdog said three of 12 NHS trusts visited in the past three months were failing to meet the most basic standards required by law.
A July 2011 report in The Independent revealed how hip replacements, cataract surgery and tonsil removal are among the many operations that two-thirds of health trusts in England are now putting on a “non-urgent” list in an attempt to help save the government-run health care program $20 billion over the next four years. The newspaper revealed one third of health trusts have already expanded the list of rationed procedures in the last 12 months and others are expected to follow suit.
Some of the examples of rationed surgical procedures include limiting hip replacements to those experiencing severe pain, cataract operations are on hold for those whose eyesight problems don’t yet affect their ability to perform on the job, and patients with varicose veins will only be allowed operations if they are experiencing pain or internal bleeding.
American bioethicist Wesley J. Smith, bemoaned the news, saying, “The UK’s National Health Service continues its collapse. And it is only going to get worse, considering the trajectory. Imagine the screaming here if HMOs did any of that.”
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“The continuing collapse of the NHS is not only an indictment of single payer health care: It is a warning to the U.S. about centralized control of health care,” he said. “The continuing collapse of the NHS is not only an indictment of single payer health care: It is a warning to the U.S. about centralized control of health care.”
“Adding injury to injury, how easy it is for the bureaucrats to lard on the goodies on the private insurance companies’ dimes–as is already happening. What makes us think that a too strained and bureaucratically suffocated private sector won’t eventually end up in a collapse–further harming the economy–and unable to provide for patients properly?” he said. “Once that happens (with malice aforethought?) Obamacarian class warriors will give a war whoop of triumph for having destroyed the dreaded private sector–and force us into single payer. See, “NHS Meltdown” posts. Lose. Lose. Lose.”