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'Death Pathway' for Terminally Ill Patients May Be Used to Cut Costs

  • Religion Today
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2012 Jul 23
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British hospitals may be placing thousands of terminally ill patients on a "death pathway" to save money, warn elder care experts. According to Baptist Press, six doctors in alliance with the Medical Ethics Alliance, a Christian organization, issued the warning about the Liverpool Care Pathway in a letter to The Daily Telegraph, the newspaper reported July 8. The pathway, which gives healthcare providers the power to withdraw medication and fluids from patients in their final days, is used in as many as 29 percent of hospital deaths. In their letter, the doctors insisted natural death was a less painful manner of dying than the withholding of fluids and drugs. There is no "scientific way of diagnosing imminent death," they said. "It is essentially a prediction, and is possible that other considerations may  come into reaching such a decision, not excluding the availability of resources." One of the doctors, retired geriatrics specialist Gillian Craig, said, "If you are cynical about it, as I am, you can see it as a cost-cutting measure, if you don't want your beds to be filled with old people." A Department of Health spokesperson told The Telegraph the pathway "is not about saving money. ... It is an established and respected tool that is recommended by [the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence] and has overwhelming support from clinicians at home and abroad."