Got to love the things that happen when the government regulates the health industry….
Doctors admit to practising ‘slow euthanasia’ on terminally-ill patients
By Daniel Martin
Last updated at 3:20 AM on 29th October 2009
One in five doctors admit to keeping the terminally-ill heavily sedated until they die, in what critics have dubbed ‘slow euthanasia’.
A poll of nearly 3,000 doctors found that 18.7 per cent had administered drugs to keep patients suffering from painful conditions such as cancer unconscious for hours at a time.
Subjected to ‘continuous deep sedation’, many slip into a drug-induced coma before dying – perhaps days earlier than they would have done. It is often given without the patient or the family being fully appraised of the consequences.
The survey found that GPs and hospital consultants who were not palliative care specialists were more likely to report using high doses of sedatives or painkillers to keep patients unconscious.
Experts have called for all doctors to be properly trained in the care of dying patients.
The study in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management also found that those who were strong supporters of assisted dying were 40 per cent more likely to use deep sedation to ease the final stretch of a patient’s life.
But those with strong religious beliefs were less likely to use sedation to ease a patient’s pain.
Usually the drugs were used for just a short period of time right at the end of someone’s life. But in 8 per cent of cases, deep sedation was used for more than a week.
Continuous deep sedation was used more frequently in the hospital or in people’s homes than in care homes or hospices, the poll shows.
There was no evidence it was used more often amongst vulnerable groups of patients, such as older people or those with dementia. It was sued more frequently to treat younger men with cancer.