(New Scientist) Stories of dying patients being denied drinks and unnecessarily sedated by nurses have this week triggered the demise of a controversial system of end-of-life care in the UK.
The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) was introduced a decade ago into the UK’s National Health Service, and was meant to import into hospitals and care homes the same kind of end-of-life procedures successfully developed and applied in hospices.
These included halting futile treatment and drugs when death is expected within hours or days, increasing pain relief if necessary and summoning and consulting with relatives on where the patient would prefer to die, and how best to handle the patient’s last hours.
However, an official review of how well the pathway has been implemented in hospitals has found significant faults. “It is clear that, in the wrong hands, the pathway has been used as an excuse for poor quality care,” it concludes.