In a disturbing article, The Daily Mail reports that NHS hospitals now put children on the Liverpool Care Pathway, withholding food and fluids from young patients and severely disabled newborns. Critics say that it is impossible to say when a patient will die. Using the Liverpool Care Pathway makes death become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
To see how its defenders think, see this letter from Margaret McCartney in the BMJ. Dr. McCartney repeats the intent of the protocol, slams the messenger, and states that “Dying well should be a priority for healthcare professionals and managers.”
In response to a columnist who wrote that the protocol for withdrawing food or water is “starving or dehydrating someone to death. And that is not helping them to die, but killing them.” Dr. McCartney protests that the pathway does not preclude artificial hydration and accuses the columnist of insisting that “doctors must provide ineffective and potential [sic] harmful interventions of no value and at all costs.”