UK Doctor Hastened Patients Deaths

This is disgusting:

A GP cleared of murdering three patients has admitted hastening their deaths and those of dozens of others in his care, including his own son… out of “Christian compassion.”

You know the rest of the article isn’t going to be very inspiring.

“I twice helped people die, not because they wanted to die but because they had such dreadful suffering. Everyone else wanted to [die] – they could make that choice,” he said. [emphasis mine]

Wow. Wow. It was the patient’s choice! Uh… except for those other couple times…

A General Medical Council (GMC) disciplinary panel yesterday ruled that Martin was guilty of serious professional misconduct for violating the rights of the terminally ill patients at his County Durham practice between 1994 and 2004. The panel said his actions were not negligent but down to an “autocratic attitude” in which he believed he was always right and showed no remorse.

How is it not negligent to “help” patients die who’ve expressed no such wish?

The GMC hearing was told that while some of the 18 patients may have had only days or hours to live, in many cases his treatment of them was “completely unacceptable … with a real possibility of hastening the death of several”.

Completely unacceptable. Yes, that’s putting it lightly.

One patient, 74-year-old Harry Gittins, may have gone on to recover from oesophageal cancer had Martin not administered 200mg of diamorphine the day before he died.

… wow.

Martin told the Daily Telegraph he felt no guilt or remorse, and wanted a reform of the care system in Britain to afford people the “dignity” of dying at home. “A vet would put a dog down,” he said. “But under the current system a doctor is not allowed to take positive action to help a patient in a humane way. I don’t believe I’ve killed any patients. I believe I’ve made them comfortable in their hour of need. But I am deemed to be arrogant because I used my discretion.

Woah, hold on. Back up a few steps. Dogs get put down, yes… Is this guy suggesting that the way we treat dogs is “humane” and that we should look to dogs for our standards of what’s humane? Etymology fail. Dogs get put down because they’re dogs. People should not be left to suffer as they near end of life, but that doesn’t mean we should kill them. Caring is not killing. (Also worth a plug: awesome People for the Ethical Treatment of People shirts from ProWomanProLife.)

I’m sure there are more details of this case that I’m not diving into (e.g. what constitutes negligence, to what degree was he intentionally trying to kill patients versus recklessly administering painkillers, and to what degree that differences matters), but… well, I was hoping that there might be commentary from folks like Alex Schadenberg, and UK anti-euthanasia groups, but it doesn’t appear like there are any recent developments in this Guardian article, aside from possibly recent comments to the media.

We need to resist the rhetoric from such medical professionals, who are engaged in completely unacceptable behaviour, and say again and again that caring is not killing. There is a humane approach to end of life issues that doesn’t involve treating people like dogs.

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