A new report from Christian Concern reveals that in 16 out of 16 “end-of-life care” cases reviewed by a parliamentary committee, the nation’s laws were broken.
The confirmation comes from the institute’s Tim Dieppe, the head of public policy, who wrote about the information from the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group.
Members of Parliament Danny Kruger and Carla Lockhart delivered the news that “far too many patients in the U.K. are being subjected to illegal and inhumane standards of care at the end of life.”
Dieppe reported that charges that could have come out of the deaths included homicide, manslaughter and negligent breach of duty.
“In all cases, the law was broken,” he reported.
The 234-page report, “When ‘End of Life Care’ Goes Wrong,” now is available for purchase, the report said.
Contributors included Sam H. Ahmedzai, emeritus professor of palliative medicine, and barrister James Bogle.
The substance of the committee report is in the 16 cases analyzed.
In all cases, “care” went wrong for patients ranging from 21 to 94 in age.
Bogle told Dieppe, “The case studies set out on this report make harrowing reading,” and cite a list of failures by medics and other health care providers.
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“In one case, a 21-year-old lady with severe learning disabilities went to hospital for a ‘routine’ eye operation and left the hospital dead. The coroner found that malnutrition contributed significantly to her death. This is despite her parents daily requesting clinical assistance with nutrition,” Dieppe reported. “In another case, a 68-year-old man went into hospital with constipation and left the hospital dead. After acquiring an infection, pneumonia, and sepsis, the hospital argued that further treatment would be futile, and sought withdrawal of treatment with the intention that the patient would die.”
Bogle said, “To dehydrate a person to death is an extremely painful and distressing way to die and is not always relieved by mere analgesic pain relief. Accordingly, unless the clinical staff can be sure that the patient is not suffering such distress, they must not allow dehydration lest the patient’s Article 3 rights are thereby violated.”
That portion of the European Convention on Human Rights declares that. “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Dieppe wrote, “Yet, in many of these cases hydration was refused to patients, often against both their express wishes, and those of their closest relatives. Relatives have been instructed not to give fluids to the patient even when the patient requests them. This is cruel, inhumane and against the law. Sadly, though, it is not uncommon. In any reasonably large group of people, you are likely to find someone with a story about someone they know who was refused fluids by medics towards the end of their life.”
While a plan that formerly was used, called Liverpool Care Pathway, has been discontinued because of its potential for injury and death to patients, Dieppe’s report explained the same result appears to be happening under a “new model.”
“What the report appears to show, however, is that nothing has really changed. Patients are still being dehydrated to death against their wishes. There has been no wholesale change of culture,” he wrote.
The report recommends several changes, including a national registry, and adoption of a national standard for patients’ instructions during end-of-life care.
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