End-of-life care is a medically approved plan, generally used for the elderly or terminally ill patients, in which a patients is put on a starvation and dehydration plan until they die.
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. She wrote: “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.”
“I have also seen children die in terrible thirst because fluids are withdrawn from them until they die.”
Lloyd goes on to describe the death of a young cancer patient on a death pathway plan: “I witnessed a 14 year-old boy with cancer die with his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth when doctors refused to give him liquids by tube. His death was agonist for him, and for us nurses to watch. This is euthanasia by the backdoor.”
One doctor admitted to participating in the starvation death of ten newborns. Death pathway “care” involves withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies. The doctor, who remained anonymous, reports that the parent-approved death pathways often take much longer than parents realize.
It can take ten days for a baby to die of starvation and dehydration. The doctor who wrote about his experiences admits to starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone. He describes the babies becoming “smaller and shrunken” as they waste away.
One hundred and thirty thousand elderly and terminally ill adult patients die under the Liverpool Care Pathway plan each year, and the LCP is now the subject of an independent inquiry ordered by ministers.
The investigation will include child patients, and will look at whether or not money plays a factor in the death pathway protocol. The LCP has been charged with making cash payments to hospitals to hit death pathway targets.
Medical critics of the LCP insist that it is impossible to say when a patient will die. As a result, LCP death becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, essentially killing patients before they have a change to die of natural causes. Critics say it is just a form of mass euthanasia, and used to save hospitals money.
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.
The doctor wrote:
“They wish for their child to die quickly once the feeding and fluids are stopped. They wish for pneumonia. They wish for no suffering. They wish for no visible changes to their precious baby.
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.”
Dr. Laura de Rooy, a consultant neonatologist as St. George’s Hospital NHS Trust in London , notes: “It is a huge supposition to think they do not feel hunger or thirst.”
While parents have to agree to their child going on the death pathway, they are often told by doctors that it is in the “child’s best interest,” since there survival is “futile.” Parents are reportedly often surprised and unprepared for the toll that the death pathway takes on their children.
The whistle-blowing doctor writes in his article, published in The British Medical Journal: “I try to make these matters clear from the outset so that these parents do not make a decision that they will come to regret. I try to prepare them for the coming collective agony that we will undoubtedly share, regardless of their certainty about their decision.”
Do you think children should be put on death pathways?