November 29, 2012

In Britain's National Health Service, babies left to die of thirst

Horrible.  And it's being done by the British health service.

Now sick babies go on death pathway: Doctor's haunting testimony reveals how children are put on end-of-life plan

Sick children are being discharged from NHS hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death pathways’.  Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill adults.

But the Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies.

One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.
Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.
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Earlier this month, an un-named doctor wrote of the agony of watching the protracted deaths of babies. The doctor described one case of a baby born with ‘a lengthy list of unexpected congenital anomalies’, whose parents agreed to put it on the pathway.
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‘Their wishes, however, are not consistent with my experience. Survival is often much longer than most physicians think; reflecting on my previous patients, the median time from withdrawal of hydration to death was ten days.

‘Parents and care teams are unprepared for the sometimes severe changes that they will witness in the child’s physical appearance as severe dehydration ensues.

‘I know, as they cannot, the unique horror of witnessing a child become smaller and shrunken, as the only route out of a life that has become excruciating to the patient or to the parents who love their baby.’
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Bernadette Lloyd, a hospice pediatric nurse, has written to the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health to criticize the use of death pathways for children.  '‘I have also seen children die in terrible thirst because fluids are withdrawn from them until they die'

She said: ‘The parents feel coerced, at a very traumatic time, into agreeing that this is correct for their child whom they are told by doctors has only has a few days to live. It is very difficult to predict death. I have seen a “reasonable” number of children recover after being taken off the pathway.
Posted by Jill Fallon at November 29, 2012 2:28 PM | Permalink