Top doctor’s claim – 130,000 elderly patients killed ‘prematurely’ every year; elderly woman starved to death in hospital

Readers of Seniors at Risk sent us two stories yesterday that will shock people who are not already aware that thousands of our elders’ fundamental human rights are being violated, and their lives put in danger, while supposedly in the ‘care’ of a modern and civilized health system.

In the first story below, one of Britain’s top doctors exposes the widespread practice in health care facilities of prematurely ending elderly people’s lives with morphine injection and withholding of food and water. The practice is based on a scheme known as the Liverpool Care Pathway, named for the U.K. city in which it was perfected.

Its unregulated, under-the-radar use extends far beyond the U.K. Evidence indicates its adoption (and abuse) here in B.C. Families are often told their loved one “died peacefully”, when in fact they died in the painful distress of dehydration, starvation and narcotic poisoning. By eye-witness accounts, this is an excruciating way to die.

The other story, equally horrifying, is from Canada. An elderly Winnipeg woman starved to death after not being given any food for 14 days during her 45-day stay in hospital. The hospital board said it was “sorry”.

Seniors at Risk is continually being made aware of these and similar cases of institutional elder abuse, almost daily. It is an epidemic, and a disgraceful atrocity.

When our existing laws, lax as they are, are not enforced, when no one is held personally accountable, when health organizations are not open and honest about their practices, and when there are no consequences for such reprehensible acts, then these crimes become inevitable and increasingly frequent.

Knowledge. Compassion. Courage. Action.

Take a stand against institutional elder abuse.  Start by reading these two stories:

Top doctor’s chilling claim: The NHS kills off 130,000 elderly patients every year

By STEVE DOUGHTY  – MAIL ONLINE  – PUBLISHED: 23:08 GMT, 19 June 2012 | UPDATED: 13:20 GMT, 21 June 2012

  • Professor says doctors use ‘death pathway’ to euthenasia of the elderly
  • Treatment on average brings a patient to death in 33 hours
  • Around 29 per cent of patients that die in hospital are on controversial ‘care pathway’…

NHS doctors are prematurely ending the lives of thousands of elderly hospital patients because they are difficult to manage or to free up beds, a senior consultant claimed yesterday.

Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ‘death pathway’ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly.

He claimed there was often a lack of clear evidence for initiating the Liverpool Care Pathway, a method of looking after terminally ill patients that is used in hospitals across the country.

It is designed to come into force when doctors believe it is impossible for a patient to recover and death is imminent.

It can include withdrawal of treatment – including the provision of water and nourishment by tube – and on average brings a patient to death in 33 hours.

There are around 450,000 deaths in Britain each year of people who are in hospital or under NHS care. Around 29 per cent – 130,000 – are of patients who were on the LCP.

Professor Pullicino claimed that far too often elderly patients who could live longer are placed on the LCP and it had now become an ‘assisted death pathway rather than a care pathway’.

He cited ‘pressure on beds and difficulty with caring for confused or difficult-to-manage elderly patients’ as factors. 

Professor Pullicino revealed he had personally intervened to take a patient off the LCP who went on to be successfully treated.

He said this showed that claims they had hours or days left are ‘palpably false’. 

In the example he revealed a 71-year-old who was admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia and epilepsy was put on the LCP by a covering doctor on a weekend shift.

Professor Pullicino said he had returned to work after a weekend to find the patient unresponsive and his family upset because they had not agreed to place him on the LCP.

Professor Pullicino said: ‘I found him deeply unresponsive on a Monday morning and was told he had been put on the LCP. He was on morphine via a syringe driver.’ He added: ‘I removed the patient from the LCP despite significant resistance.’

‘His seizures came under control and four weeks later he was discharged home to his family,’ he said.

Professor Pullicino, a consultant neurologist for East Kent Hospitals and Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Kent, was speaking to the Royal Society of Medicine in London. … [READ MORE]

Board sorry for hospital horror

Canadian Press – Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The family of a 98-year-old woman who died three years ago after being admitted to hospital following a stroke says it has received an apology from a health board.

Anne Rostecki starved to death after she was taken to Seven Oaks General Hospital in Winnipeg in July 2009.

Rostecki’s daughter, Rozalynde McKibbin, alleges her mother was deprived of food for 14 days during her 45-day stay at Seven Oaks. She says she watched her mother’s weight steadily drop and believes she wasn’t given proper nourishment. … [READ MORE]


Help STOP institutional elder abuse – write your elected representatives, voice your concerns online, let others know what’s happening, or… take whatever steps you think will help make a difference to protect seniors’ legal and human rights from abuse by Canadian health care institutions and public agencies.

The Coalition to Support SENIORS AT RISK

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  1. For the attention of all care providers, government and other agencies involved in delivering care to our loved ones in care homes. Even relatives of those living in care homes have feelings! We are not a threat to you. All we want is good care for our loved ones. Take down your barriers and try to work with us, rather than be defensive and using your power to try to control us. For all of us, the truth will win eventually, it has to …..

    Comment by Jenny X — June 21, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

  2. “Don’t be discouraged. It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock.” – Unknown

    Comment by Unknown — June 21, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

  3. The stories on this site have inspired me to write about my good friend. He was a bachelor all his life who enjoyed gardening and not much else. Although he lived in the city, he never enjoyed any of the modern advances. He used a wood fired kitchen stove, used an out house, and had only one water tap. When it came time to wash the dishes or have a bath he had to boil the water first.

    As my friend’s health deteriorated it became necessary to encourage him to sell his home and move into a care home. He was nearly blind by then so he agreed that it was time. Had we had any idea that all they were going to do was drug him and sit him in a wheel chair day in and day out, we may have made a different choice.

    My friend loss his life one day when he attempted to stand up from his wheel chair. The medication was so strong that he fell and smashed his head. He lived just long enough to say, “It was like my head knew I wanted to move forward but my feet didn’t respond. I fell so quick.” Staff reported that it was necessary to drug him because he was belligerent most of the time. They felt he was a danger to staff and other residents. I was his best friend for over 40 years, he spent time with my large and growing family. The grandkids were his favorite and he always treated all of us very good. I just can’t believe their claim.

    RIP my friend.

    Comment by Stan — June 21, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

  4. I have been showing my grandma some of these stories, she has good health for the most part but is really worried about her future. Jean Wilder is about the same age as my grandma. I would die if someone ever told me I couldn’t visit my grandma.

    I remember stories about children being taken from parents for months on end and always believed it was the parents fault and it was a necessary step. After reading these stories about elders being kept from their families and the BS that goes with it, I think differently. No one young or old should ever be denied their loved ones over alleged BS.

    Comment by Leanne — June 21, 2012 @ 10:17 pm

  5. 130,000 ‘PREMATURE’ DEATHS… From Lynn Smith’s Judgment June 15 2012:

    Currently accepted and legal end of life practices in Canada allow physicians to follow patients’ or substitute decision-makers’ instructions to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment from patients. Accepted practices also allow physicians to administer medications even in dosages that may hasten death, and to administer palliative sedation.

    I am close to 70 years old and I did not know this. I thought we lived in a country of life absolute.

    Comment by audrey — June 22, 2012 @ 11:19 am

  6. 130,000 ‘PREMATURE’ DEATHS… To The Families:
    Religious or not, this material describes our time and shows an interesting perspective.
    “I keep crying for help, but there is no justice.” (Job 19:7)
    Likewise today, many are crying out for justice, but all too often, their cries go unheeded.
    Really, is it within anyone’s power to eliminate injustice? Or is the hope that there will be a more just tomorrow simply an ideal entertained by the naive?
    In order to get a satisfactory answer, we must examine some of the root causes of injustice.

    NEARLY two thousand years ago, the Bible set out a remarkably accurate social profile of our time. It stated: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here.
    For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, . . . unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement,
    . . . without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.”—2 Timothy 3:1-4.
    Few would deny that those negative traits have become more common in our time.
    They become manifest in many ways, including greed, prejudice, antisocial attitudes, corruption, and extreme financial inequality.

    Read More Here:

    Comment by Eyes Wide Open — June 22, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

  7. I shall be sending the link to this article to the Chief Constable of Liverpool Constabulary with a formal complaint. I suggest that this journal considered taking legal advice as to the same action, as it is a statutory obligation to report serious crime.

    This is not care, nor has a duty of care been offered. The word for this is Murder. It is illegal. It must be investigated by the police. It is Murder and any person standing by or assisting in these crimes are giving aid and assistance to an act of Murder. This is illegal.

    Any Nuremburg argument offered by any nurse, doctor or carer may be used against them in a court of law.

    This is murder.

    Comment by Mr. MHpaine — October 22, 2012 @ 3:04 am

  8. 130,000 PREMATURE DEATHS… Are people aware that this protocol is also used in Canada? It is certainly used in BC. It’s called Comfort Care. I’ve seen at least 3 people die this way in Senior’s homes. Food and water is withheld, and huge doses of morphine are given. The person dies on schedule.

    I don’t know if its legal but it is certainly convenient for the hospital when they know what bed will be available and when.

    Comment by Stella — November 7, 2012 @ 11:03 am

  9. 130,000 PREMATURE DEATHS… “Who are we to make such a decision? To allow another living being – any living being – to die, when ours is the power to prevent it?

    – Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic)”

    Comment by Ron T — December 22, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

  10. 130,000 PREMATURE DEATHS… “I have no personal stake in these people, Jean-Claude, but they are people. Good, bad, or indifferent, they are alive, and no one has the right to just arbitrarily snuff them out.”
    “So it is the sanctity of life you cling to?” I nodded. “That and the fact that every human being is special. Every death is a loss of something precious and irreplaceable.”

    ― Laurell K. Hamilton

    Comment by Ron T — December 22, 2012 @ 9:38 pm

  11. 130,000 ‘PREMATURE’ DEATHS… I have witnessed it first hand. These doctors in public system killed my mother said she had a heart attack when the heart specialist said she was fine.

    Comment by Anonymous — March 27, 2013 @ 7:13 am

  12. 130,000 ‘PREMATURE’ DEATHS… In the British system, “elderly patients starve to death in hospitals every year.  It happens in Canada and other places too.  Increasingly, expending scarce resources on “unproductive” people is frowned upon…”

    Pingback by Obamacare Isn’t Healthcare (Part Two) | jcurtisblog — October 23, 2013 @ 7:59 pm

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