Marlowe's Shade

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

UK Health Care Fights to Deny Food & Water to Disabled

From The Telegraph thanks to NY Nana.

A terminally ill man who fears he will be condemned to die of thirst - fully conscious but unable to swallow - heard doctors' leaders argue in court yesterday that allowing patients to decide on their own treatment was not in their best interests.

Leslie Burke, 45, from Lancaster, was in the Court of Appeal to hear the General Medical Council challenge a ground-breaking ruling in his favour last July.

Leslie Burke outside the Court of Appeal in London yesterday
The case raises profound questions about the right to life and the dividing line between personal autonomy and the duty of doctors to act in what they regard as their patients' best interests.

Mr Burke has cerebellar ataxia, a degenerative condition that follows a similar course to multiple sclerosis. He was diagnosed in 1982.

Eventually, he will lose the ability to swallow and will survive only if he is fed through a tube. He fears that doctors will decide at some point that his life is no longer worth living and withdraw life-prolonging treatment.

Since the disease does not affect his cognitive facilities or sensations, he says he would suffer "pain and extreme distress" in the two or three weeks it would take him to die from malnutrition.

Under guidance issued by the GMC in 2002, doctors may stop feeding and hydrating a patient by artificial means if they judge that the "patient's condition is so severe, or the prognosis so poor, that providing artificial nutrition or hydration may cause suffering, or be too burdensome in relation to the possible benefits".

The overlords of Britain's "free" health care system are trying to play God and if they succeed in court none of the disabled or elderly in their care will be safe.
papijoe 6:31 AM