Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Liverpool Care Pathway – And The Folly Of Predicting Death

When doctors agree -

Baroness Hollins, president-elect of the British Medical Association, is opposed to Lord Falconer's proposals - The euthanasia lobby fails to make its case
Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins
"the idea that doctors can reliably predict a particular patient’s lifespan is a nonsense: just look at Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, or even Professor Stephen Hawking, who was told in 1963 that he had only two years to live."

Baroness Hollins
president-elect of the British Medical Association

Worrying claim: Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ¿death pathway¿ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly
Professor Patrick Pullicino
"Predicting death in a time frame of three to four days, or even at any other specific time, is not possible scientifically. 

"This determination in the LCP leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. The personal views of the physician or other medical team members of perceived quality of life or low likelihood of a good outcome are probably central in putting a patient on the LCP."

- Professor Pullicino, consultant neurologist East Kent Hospitals and Professor of Clinical Neurosciences University of Kent

"There are dangers in grouping patients labelled 'terminal' in institutions, because diagnoses can be wrong (1). There is a risk that if all the staff in an institution are orientated towards death and dying and non-intervention, treatable illness may be overlooked. Not everyone who is referred for terminal care proves to be terminally ill, and no physician should accept such a diagnosis without reviewing the evidence personally."

Dr. Gillian M Craig Consultant Geriatrician, Northampton

(1) Kamisar Y. In: Downing A, ed. Euthanasia and the
right to death. London: Peter Owen, 1969: 100-101.

1 comment:

  1. Good post, Eldoel. Thank God for the voice of reason from physicians like Baroness, professor Hollins, professor Pullicino, Dr Craig and so many others in the medical profession who have spoken out against this bad science that attempts to forecast death as much as a year ahead. Think of what the guidelines advise GPs who are unsure about the veracity of a death forecast advise them to do:

    "use your intuition." In other words, guess.

    Medical science of the 21st century, content to rely on intuition and guesswork in respect of forcasting the death of a patient. It's like something out of science fiction: a horror story. You couldn't make it up, could you?

    I know from my own experience that Pullicino, Hollins, Craig and all of the others who criticise such death forecasting are right, as my own mother confounded the forecast of her impending death when she was just a baby. My mother was born a weak and sickly baby and, at a few weeks old, became very ill with severe pneumonia. The doctor treating her told my grandmother that there was no hope for my mother, she was dying and would not survive more than a few hours. Yet her apparently 'hopeless' condition improved and she recovered. Had the Liverpool Pathway been in existence then, my mother may well have been wrongly placed on it, and I would not be here to speak of it.