The health care stories out of the UK are getting worse and worse. Most First Thoughts readers have probably never heard of the “”Liverpool Care Pathway,” a palliative regime being adopted by hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices throughout the UK, under which dying patients are sedated and denied food and fluids–apparently whether their symptoms require sedation or not.
Some doctors have raised a stink about this, as I discussed earlier over at Secondhand Smoke. Yesterday, the Sunday Times reported about a woman, misdiagnosed as terminal, who was only spared dehydration because of the persistence of her daughter. And today, the Mail reports that a man was misdiagnosed with recurrent terminal cancer and dehydrated, apparently under the Pathway guidelines. An autopsy showed he had a chest infection and would have survived if treated.
The UK’s health care system is substantially under the sway of utilitarian bioethicists of the kind that would be appointed to the cost/benefit/best practices boards proposed by Obamacare to control costs. We go down that path at significant peril to people who are elderly, have serious disabilities, or catastrophic (and expensive) illnesses. Based on what is happening in the UK, no one can say we weren’t warned.