Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dying Patients on Liverpool Care Pathway Never Told That Life-Saving Treatment Was Being Withdrawn

The socialist state is a cold, calculating killer.

The Telegraph UK has more on Britain's National Health Service hospitals that send their patients home to die, and in this case, the patients aren't even told what's happening. See, "Half of those on Liverpool Care Pathway never told":
Almost half of dying patients placed on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway are never told that life-saving treatment has been withdrawn, a national audit has found.

The study suggests that in total, around 57,000 patients a year are dying in NHS hospitals without being told that efforts to keep them alive have been stopped.
It also reveals that thousands of dying patients have been left to suffer in pain, with no attempt to keep them comfortable while drugs were administered.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, last night described the disclosures from records held by 178 NHS hospitals as "totally unacceptable".

He said the failure to consult patients would now be examined by an independent inquiry, which will also look at payments made to hospitals for meeting targets to place people on the pathway.

Each year around 130,000 patients are placed on the pathway. The national audit by the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute Liverpool and the Royal College of Physicians examined a representative sample of 7,058 deaths which occurred between April and June last year, at 178 NHS hospitals. Of these, X were on the pathway.

The new disclosures demonstrate just how routinely hospitals are placing patients on the pathway without informing them that steps which could hasten their death have been taken. The national audit found...
Well, that doesn't sound so lovely now, does it?

And it's not like it isn't coming here. Perhaps we'll have some other name besides "death pathways," but we'll have identical death by rationing soon enough.

Check Paul Hsieh's report from October, at Forbes, "Get Ready For ObamaCare's Medical Rationing":
ObamaCare supporters are now waging a high-profile public relations campaign to make medical rationing palatable to the general public.

The latest front is the opinion pages of the New York Times, which recently published two Op-Eds openly advocating medical rationing. The first was by their economics columnist Eduardo Porter, “Rationing Health Care More Fairly” (8/21/2012).

Porter argued that rationing was “inevitable” and the only question was how best to implement it. He advocated a system like Great Britain’s, which doesn’t pay for medical therapies costing more than $31,000 – $47,000 per year of life gained. Similarly, he praised New Zealand’s approach of not paying for vaccines that cost more than $20,000 per year of life gained.

For Porter, the only question was the precise dollar value the government should set on a year of a patient’s life. Supporters of government-run health care used to argue against market-based approaches because “you couldn’t put a price on human life.” But that’s precisely what Porter wants the government to do.

The second pro-rationing piece was by Obama administration advisor Steve Rattner, “Beyond ObamaCare” (9/16/2012). Rattner stated up front, “We need death panels.”

Rattner advocated restricting medical spending on the elderly, especially on patients in their last year of life, because such spending “consumes more than a quarter of the [Medicare] program’s budget.”

One big problem with Rattner’s approach is that we often can’t know what will be a patient’s final year of life until after they’ve died. It’s easy for a bureaucrat to say in retrospect, “This unnecessary spending didn’t extend the patient’s life.” But the treating physician doesn’t always know whether a patient will live or die from a surgery or procedure. If the surgery succeeds and the patient lives another 5 years, then it was money well spent. But if the patient dies, a bureaucrat can classify it as “wasteful.” Do we really want the government deciding whether or not a doctor is allowed to save your grandmother’s life?

In a recent New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) article, former Obama administration officials have also advocated a more indirect form of rationing. They’ve proposed a fixed cap on aggregate private medical spending (not just government spending). Such a cap has already been enacted into law in Massachusetts and the authors wish to extend that to the rest of the country. Of course, any cap on private medical spending necessarily means the government must restrict Americans’ right to spend their own money for their own medical care.

One of the co-authors of this NEJM article, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, has already laid the intellectual groundwork for overt rationing in a 2009 Lancet article, “Principles For Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions.” Dr. Emanuel is a former White House health care advisor and the brother of Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff.

Dr. Emanuel proposes rationing based on a combination of factors including patient age, expected “quality adjusted life years,” and the patient’s “instrumental value” to “society.” Given that the government would be making (and paying for) these rationing decisions, value to “society” will become “value as determined by the government.”

Such rationing completely inverts the relationship between the individual and the state. Rather than the state existing to serve the individual, the individual’s existence is sustained at the discretion of the state. This is the opposite of the American founders’ intention that the government be the people’s servant, not their master.
None of this should be surprising. Lots of folks warned of the horrible, horrible inevitability of rationing under ObamaCare while it was being debated. Harvard economist Martin Feldstein, for example, "ObamaCare Is All About Rationing." But critics were dismissed as cranks and racists, conspiracy theorists pushing crazy fever swamp theories "death panels" hatched by Sarah Palin and her "unhinged" followers. The critics were right, although for the time being, it just doesn't matter.

As I've been saying, the new era of socialist dependency government is upon us. The voters ratified the ObamaCare monstrosity last month. Things are now starting to take effect. Death be upon us now, too late to cry about it, however. The wheels of the gargantuan maw of progressivism are rolling, and political dissenters are being eliminated by campaigns of demonization from the shock troops of the Democrat Party regime. There is hope, of course. And that lies in the electorate waking up before too much damage has been inflicted. We'll have midterm elections in 2014 and perhaps libertarian-minded tea party conservatives will be elected in greater numbers. Perhaps even the possibility of a GOP majority in the Senate will open up. I'll have more on that. In the meantime, folks should hunker down and take care of themselves and their families, for the weakest among us will be the first to make the last journey down the left's pathway of death.

RELATED: At London's Daily Mail, "Now sick babies go on death pathway: Doctor's haunting testimony reveals how children are put on end-of-life plan," and "Doctors 'are withholding treatment from dying cancer patients because they think it is futile to continue'."