Dr. James Beattie, a cardiologist who works at the East of England NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham, believes hospitals should let more elderly patients die and “quality of life” should be given more consideration.
‘If a person is in hospital, particularly an elderly person with multiple co-morbidities, if they have a cardiac arrest it’s a sign they are in decline,’ he told Radio 4.
Dr Beattie, who works at the East of England NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham, explained that the chance of an elderly person leaving hospital after being resuscitated is around 5 per cent.
But he said the issue was a difficult one because people today are less likely to think and talk about death thanks to advancements in modern medicine, which mean that people are living longer.
‘Society these days is much less familiar with death,’ he said, adding: ‘Our great-grandparents and to some extent our grandparents grew up with people dying before the days of antibiotics.
‘That’s denied these days. People died at home. Death is now becoming something in hospitals and care homes, somewhere removed from the family and the home.’
However, the ideology that Beattie proposes is a slippery slope and leads to an ugly future, where the elderly, ill, and dying are neglected and even killed.
Dr. Everett Koop, a renown pediatric surgeon who served as Surgeon General of the United States during President Reagan’s administration, said in his book The Memoirs of America’s Family Doctor, “… We must be wary of those who are too willing to end the lives of the elderly and the ill. If we ever decide that a poor quality of life justifies ending that life, we have taken a step down a slippery slope that places all of us in danger. There is a difference between allowing nature to take its course and actively assisting death. The call for euthanasia surfaces in our society periodically, as it is doing now under the guise of “death with dignity” or assisted suicide.”
While the morality of many end-of-life decisions, such as when to sign a “do not resuscitate order”, when to take a loved one off life support, or if extraordinary measures should be taken to save a person’s life can vary case-by-case, deciding that the elderly or sick should be left to die because they will not have a good quality of life is not one doctors in hospitals should be making. When society travels down that path, it not only leads to death by omission, but intentional, direct killing of innocent people.
Burke Balch J.D. said it best at the National Right to Life convention in Louisville, Kentucky earlier this summer: “It is critical that we understand that the actual application of quality of life ideology is extremely subjective and very arbitrary. Humanity exists on a continuum of our degree of mental mobility, and on a continuum of physical health. The issue of where you draw the line of whether a particular persons life if worth living, or a particular life is not worth living, is something of a gut instinct or of a consensus among doctors.”
The article concluded by explaining that sometimes doctors spend too much time and money on petitions for their patients who need surgeries, instead of meeting all their responsibilities as physicians. Although it may be valid to argue that doctors need to manage their time wisely, when making medical decisions, it needs to be emphasized that time and money should not be ultimate deciding factors as to whether a person lives or dies. Instead, a civilized society should protect their weakest and do everything within their power to ensure their health and survival.