At around 4am on Monday, a friend of mine was woken by a call from the private care home in south-west London where her 98-year-old grandmother is resident.
"Mrs ------- has breathing difficulties," the night manager told her. "She needs oxygen. Shall we call an ambulance?"
"What do you mean?" my friend responded. "What's the matter with her?"
"She needs to go to hospital. Do you want that? Or would you prefer that we make her comfortable?"
Then, the chilling implication of the phone call filtered through – she was being asked whether her grandmother should be allowed to die.
"Call an ambulance now," my friend demanded.
The person at the other end persisted. "Are you sure that's what you want? For her to go to hospital."
"Yes, absolutely. Get her to hospital."
Three hours later, her grandmother was sitting up in A&E, smiling. She had a mild chest infection, was extremely dehydrated, but was responding to oxygen treatment.
16 October 2009
Should We Allow Granny to Die?
Stories are now widespread in the newspapers in Great Britain about people, usually elderly, being put on the Liverpool Care Pathway. The plan is intended for people very close to death, or at least it was originally claimed that that was its purpose. More and more stories are emerging about people who are not so close to death being put on this euthanasia plan. Here is another such story.
Her granddaughter was wondering how her grandmother, whose major health problem is a badly calcified knee, had been allowed to become dehydrated in the first place. Dehydration is one of the steps in the Liverpool Care Pathway when the NHS decides that an elderly patient will be allowed to die. Now the granddaughter is worried about the care her grandmother is getting in the private care home.
As costs rise in a nationalized health care system, the average taxpayer inevitably does not have the same incentive the loving family members have for the preservation of grandma's and grandpa's lives. Naturally, they are going to refuse the higher taxes to support the health care system and that system will have to respond with bureaucrats creating rules that will ration health care. Generally, the value of your grandmother to society is weighed against her value, not to you, but to society. When that happens, your rather expensive grandmother is going to receive less care than a younger person and less care than you want for her. There is every incentive to put your grandmother on the Liverpool Care Pathway, or in America on the Chicago Care Pathway a few years down the pike after we adopt ObamaCare. Some death panel of bureaucrats will promulgate the rules that save the system money.