The elephant in the room here, in addition to the obvious warning about government health care, is that hospice care can be deadly. Palliative care, such as morphine can actually hasten death. But that discussion is for another time. Time and again we are told that all the horror stories we hear about Britain's Health care system are simply part of the "myths" that those bad old, uncaring "political terrorists" people on the Right are peddling. Well, maybe not. From the Telegraph H/T Touchstone:
In 2007-08 16.5 per cent of deaths in Britain came about after continuous deep sedation, according to researchers at the Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, twice as many as in Belgium and the Netherlands.
In a letter to the Telegraph, 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 warn:“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.”
Sounds like a panel of experts "helping" by keeping health costs down.
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.
The scheme, called the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), was designed to reduce patient suffering in their final hours.
It was recommended as a model by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), the Government’s health scrutiny body, in 2004.
Under the guidelines the decision to diagnose that a patient is close to death is made by the entire medical team treating them, including a senior doctor.
They look for signs that a patient is approaching their final hours, which can include if patients have lost consciousness or whether they are having difficulty swallowing medication.However, doctors warn that these signs can point to other medical problems. Patients can become semi-conscious and confused as a side effect of pain-killing drugs such as morphine if they are also dehydrated, for instance.
When a decision has been made to place a patient on the pathway doctors are then recommended to consider removing medication or invasive procedures, such as intravenous drips, which are no longer of benefit.
If a patient is judged to still be able to eat or drink food and water will still be offered to them, as this is considered nursing care rather than medical intervention.
Dr Hargreaves said that this depended, however, on constant assessment of a patient’s condition.
He added that some patients were being “wrongly” put on the pathway, which created a “self-fulfilling prophecy” that they would die.
He said: “I have been practising palliative medicine for more than 20 years and I am getting more concerned about this “death pathway” that is coming in.“Patients who are allowed to become dehydrated and then become confused can be wrongly put on this pathway.”
He said that he had personally taken patients off the pathway who went on to live for “significant” amounts of time and warned that many doctors were not checking the progress of patients enough to notice improvement in their condition.“If they are sedated it is much harder to see that a patient is getting better,” Prof Millard said.