Care of British terminally ill questioned

Dec. 2, 2011 at 12:48 PM

LONDON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Many families in Britain aren't told their terminally ill loved ones are on a "death pathway" with fluids and drugs withheld in their final days, experts said.

The Royal College of Physicians said many doctors were not following guidelines recommending physicians discuss with relatives whether their loved one is placed in a controversial status that allows a medical staff to withdraw fluid and drugs as death approaches, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.

The plan is referred to as a "death pathway."

The Liverpool Care Pathway, developed at the Royal Liverpool Hospital in the 1990s, aims to allow patients to die without being subjected to unnecessary interference by the staff attending them.

A recent audit found that in a quarter of hospitals discussions were not held with one in three families.

"It is very worrying that in any situation less than 100 per cent of families are being consulted before patients are being put on the Liverpool Care Pathway," Kevin Fitzpatrick, spokesman for the campaign group Not Dead Yet, said. "It is a shock for families to find that out."

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