Human Exceptionalism

Dehydrating Disabled Babies in UK Hospitals

The Liverpool Care Pathway has become a checklist for killing. This is what happens when a country allows bureaucrats to control healthcare. (Yes, I am issuing an unsubtle warning about Obamacare.)

The Pathway was designed by health bureaucrats to fix a real problem: Too many patients were being allowed to die in pain in UK hospitals. In centralized systems, the answer to a problem is always more technocracy. So, the Liverpool Care Pathway was put into place to ensure that dying patients receive adequate pain control, including in the rare instances that it is necessary, sedation. 

But rather than being patient-centered, it became a bureaucratic nightmare:  Patient elderly or dying: Check. Pathway instituted whether the patient requires it or not: Check.  It got so bad that some who weren’t dying have been sedated and dehydrated to death.

And now: Disabled and dying babies:  From the Daily Mail story:

Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill adults. But the Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies. One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone. Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’…

According to the BMJ article, the doctor involved had presided over ten such deaths in just one hospital neonatal unit. In a response to the article, Dr Laura de Rooy, a consultant neonatologist at St George’s Hospital NHS Trust in London writing on the BMJ website, said: ‘It is a huge supposition to think they do not feel hunger or thirst.’ The LCP for children has been developed in the North West, where the LCP itself was pioneered in the 1990s. It involves the discharge to home or to a hospice of children who are given a document detailing their ‘end of life’ care.

One seen by the Mail, called ‘Liverpool Pathway for the Dying Child’ is issued by the Royal Liverpool Children’s NHS Trust in conjunction with the flagship children’s hospital Alder Hey. It includes tick boxes, filled out by hospital doctors, on medicines, nutrients and fluids to be stopped.

But Wesley, the parents approve, right?

Bernadette Lloyd, a hospice paediatric nurse, has written to the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health to criticise the use of death pathways for children. ‘I have also seen children die in terrible thirst because fluids are withdrawn from them until they die’ She said: ‘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. 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 agonising for him, and for us nurses to watch. This is euthanasia by the backdoor.’

Yes it is.

You watch: The way things are going in the UK, the answer won’t be to stop dehydrating, but to lethally inject.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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