Veteran Condemned to Die: Put on “Death Pathway” After Doctors Claim He Can’t be Saved

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jul 27, 2016   |   12:10PM   |   Washington, DC

A British World War II veteran who died after being denied care at a London hospital probably would have lived if he had received the proper treatment, a new government watchdog report says.

The Daily Mail reports Josef Boberek, 92, died at Hammersmith Hospital in West London in 2013 not long after he was admitted with a chest infection. Doctors told Boberek’s family that he was dying and put him on the notorious Liverpool Care Pathway, sometimes referred to as the “death pathway,” and withdrew his fluids and medication, the report states. The British government later banned the Liverpool pathway because of numerous abuses.

Three years later, the Health Service Ombudsman, a British government watchdog group, has released its investigative report on Boberek’s death. The report concluded that there was “no evidence” to support the hospital’s claims that Boberek was dying when it withdrew his fluids and medication.

“We cannot say how much longer Mr. Boberek would have lived. However, in our view, if the failings had not happened, he would not have died at this time,” the report states.

Here’s more from the news outlet:

The damning report by the Health Service Ombudsman found a litany of failings at the hospital, including:

  • Doctors claimed Mr Boberek was suffering from terminal heart and kidney failure when he was not;
  • Although he was frail, he would almost certainly have lived if he had been properly treated;
  • He was not suffering from dementia, as stated in his medical notes.

In what is believed to be the first time hospital chiefs have publicly accepted that the LCP [Liverpool Care Pathway] had ‘killed’ a patient, the Imperial College Healthcare Trust told Miss Boberek that ‘if the failings had not happened, on the balance of probabilities your father would have survived and returned to his nursing home’.

Mr Boberek died in June 2013, months before the LCP – in which dying patients are sedated while treatment is withdrawn – was banned by the Government following claims it was being abused, although critics say it persists under other names.



… Mr Boberek was prescribed antibiotics for the infection and three litres of fluid from an intravenous drip because he was dehydrated, a common condition. His daughter said that, within a few days, the doctors considered him almost well enough to go home, but she had become concerned because he was not eating or drinking properly.

What she did not know until she examined his medical notes months later was that, for an unknown reason, her father had received only one of the three prescribed litres of fluids.

… A week after his admission he was vomiting and, the following day – June 6 – Miss Boberek told the specialist registrar, Dr Arshad Rather, who was the most senior day-to-day doctor on the ward, of her concerns.

Later that evening a junior doctor told her that her father had developed a further infection and that his organs were failing, and gave her the strong impression that even if he recovered from the infection with another dose of antibiotics, his heart and kidneys were giving out.

Boberek’s daughter said she did not authorize the hospital to put her father on the LCP but she later found out that one of the doctors had authorized it anyway. Her father died one day later, she said.

After the investigative report was released several weeks ago, Boberek’s daughter said she received a letter from the hospital apologizing for “a number of incorrect diagnoses” and her father’s death. The daughter refused an offer of compensation, according to the report.

Boberek was a great-grandfather, an engineer and a veteran who fled his home country of Poland when the Nazis invaded and later served in the British Army during World War II, according to the report.

His death is a reminder of the growing push to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide across the world. Many believe that these life-destroying practices will open the doors to more abuses like the Boberek case where the elderly and disabled are denied costly medical care and pushed toward the cheaper option of death.