Friday, August 8, 2014

Hospitals Should Let More Elderly Patients Die

In an interview with BBC-4, consultant cardiologist James Beattie (Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham) argues that hospitals should let more elderly patients die.  

Several papers report on the radio interview.  The Daily Mail title is provocative: "Let More Elderly Die . . . Patients with Low Quality of Life Should Not Be Saved."  Salon reports with the less provocative title "Let the Dying Die."

But the sensationalism is misplaced.  The statistics and recommendations are familiar.  Still, they remain under-addressed both in the UK and in the USA.  


Anonymous said...

The medical profession is there to SAVE patients, not ignore the fact that they just MAY want to live, whether it be a low quality of life or not. I'm positive that the doctors themselves (as older patients) would feel that even a low quality of life is better than none at all. Tell Dr. GOD that he has no authority kill, but to save.

Carol Eblen said...

When "Let the elderly people die" is policy in a for-profit system as exists in the USA, how can "killing for profit" be separated from compassionate "do nothing" and let the patient die without the patient's informed consent?

Hasn't the failure in the USA to define "medical futility" under law actually resulted in the misuse of unilateral DNR, both covert and overt, to hasten the death of patients to cap unreimbursed expense.

Because of the "Procedural Morass of DNR policy" and the confused state of the law, elderly/disabled patients and others are being hastened unto death without their informed consent.

When public hospitals in the States in the USA adopt unilateral DNR Code policy, isn't this a violation of the 14th Amendment?

Anonymous said...

By definition, Informed consent includes thoughtful discussion with the patient of the risks and benefits of interventions, tests, procedures, studies, medications, therapy, etc. "Risks" would entail side-effects of such things as chemotherapy, radiation, surgical risks, but should also include odds ratio of unsuccessful outcome, or false test result. Don't forget to talk about the option to DO NOTHING, or "Wait and see". Talking about the "what-it" scenario from each option/perspective is true informed consent.