September 03, 2009
In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.
Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.
But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.
As a result the scheme is causing a “national crisis” in patient care, the letter states. It has been signed palliative care experts including Professor Peter Millard, Emeritus Professor of Geriatrics, University of London, Dr Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Luke’s cancer centre in Guildford, and four others.
“Forecasting death is an inexact science,”they say. Patients are being diagnosed as being close to death “without regard to the fact that the diagnosis could be wrong.
“As a result a national wave of discontent is building up, as family and friends witness the denial of fluids and food to patients."
The warning comes just a week after a report by the Patients Association estimated that up to one million patients had received poor or cruel care on the NHS.
Now, to be fair, the article goes on to say that the decisions are made by the medical team treating the patient, including a "senior doctor," not some group of far-away faceless bureaucrats, but, really, what's the difference when it's one of your loved ones? You've got people working within the constraints of the government's health care system deciding that someone you care about isn't worth the resources.
Oh, and the next time someone you know brings up Britain's NHS as something we ought to emulate, remember to bring up that "national wave of discontent" about their friends and family being killed off. You know, to bend that cost curve. Yeah.
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