Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Liverpool Care Pathway - The 'Lazarus' Care Pathway

The following article is published on
Clerical Whispers  and CN Cath News
Euthanasia 'unofficially' practised in UK, says leading 
Cath doctor

The president of the Catholic Medical Association in the UK believes that euthanasia is quite widely practised in the country's National Health Service in an unofficial way, said a report in the Independent Catholic News.

Dr Clare Walker explained how she is regularly contacted by distressed health care professionals and managers who describe their experience of witnessing repeated instances of unofficial, active euthanasia in their local areas.

"The standards of medical ethics and of interpretation of existing legislation appear to vary greatly around the country and from one organisation to the next, even in the same local area," said Dr Walker.

One development that has enabled this to happen is the adoption of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), developed in Liverpool in the 1990s as a result of collaboration between the Royal Liverpool Hospital and the Marie Curie hospice.

It aimed to bring hospice-style palliative care for those living out their last hours in hospital and its main emphasis was to unite professional support in the fields of physical treatment, psychological support, and support for carers and spiritual care.

"There is no reason to be suspicious when the LCP is being used in appropriate circumstances to a higher standard of care," said Dr Walker.

However, the scheme has now been rolled out across the country, with the application depending on widely differing levels of ethical application.

"If it is used out of context, then it could be used to the detriment of patients. For example, a patient comes into a resuscitation bay and it is not always clear if a condition is acute and can be treated," said Dr Walker, who recalls that in some hospitals the LCP has become known as the Lazarus Care Pathway due to the number of people who have been put on it inappropriately, are not moribound and subsequently need to be actively treated.

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