Monday, 15 October 2012

Liverpool Care Pathway – A Review Will Not Repair A Flaw

This is how it happens. This is when it happens.
'On the Saturday I rang and asked how she was and asked if I should come in, but they told me that there were no worries. On the Sunday, I picked up my cousin and we arrived at the hospital at 12.15pm, which was a bit before visiting hours started at 1pm, but we went up to the ward to ask if we could see her. 
'When we got there, the nurse said, “haven't you got our phone call? We phoned you about 11.15am” and we were asked to go into the relatives' room. 
'She then told us, “unfortunately your aunt has passed away”. When I said surely I should have been called, the nurse said, “you knew that she was on the Liverpool Care Pathway”. I knew absolutely nothing, they had never mentioned it.' 
 Here is The Telegraph -

Woman, 85, died alone after being put on care pathway

An 85-year-old woman died on her own after relatives were not told by doctors that she had been put on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway.

Woman, 85, died alone after being put on care pathway: Olive Goom was alone when she died at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital after medics did not consult with her family
Olive Goom was alone when she died at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital after medics did not consult with her family Photo: ALAMY

Olive Goom was alone when she died at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital after medics did not consult with her family, a newspaper reported.

Hours before, relatives had been reassured by staff on the phone that there was no urgent need to visit, even though doctors had already removed tubes providing food and fluid.

They only found out she had died when her niece went to visit her and found she was already being prepared for the mortuary, and last night said they would never stop feeling guilty that no one was there in her final hours.

Their experience is shared by a number of families who have said relatives were put on the Liverpool Care Pathway - the system designed to ease the suffering of patients in their final hours - without any consultation.

Thousands are placed every year on the pathway, designed in the 1990s as a means of easing pain when it is impossible for a patient to recover.

The process involves lifesaving treatment being withdrawn and can involve heavy sedation and the removal of tubes providing food and fluid, but critics say it is increasingly being applied to patients' without their families' knowledge and when they could still recover.

Miss Goom's niece Marion Hebbourne told the Daily Mail that she had been in hospital after breaking her humerus bone in February last year.

She said her aunt, a former seamstress who never married, had an infection but she had no idea she was about to die.

Mrs Hebbourne said when she and her cousin visited her in hospital they were told "unfortunately your aunt has passed away" and that a nurse asserted she had been told her aunt was on the pathway.

She said: "I wanted to spend the last hours and days of her life with her. They could have told me that I needed to come down and see her.

"If they had talked it over with me we may have thought it was the best thing, but we were never told. I now have to live with the guilt that nobody from her family was there for her."

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital admitted that Miss Goom had been put on the pathway by doctors without telling Mrs Hebbourne and apologised, adding that recommendations about dealing with such cases had now been implemented.

Chris Skidmore, a member of the Commons health select committee, said such cases were "disturbing" and risked undermining "the mutual bonds of trust which are essential in the NHS". He said he would write to the Health Secretary to demand an investigation into the pathway.

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said he supported the pathway but called for a review to ensure it was always done "in complete partnership" with patients' relatives.

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