In the end, dignity is the most important thing

 

A recent Canadian survey showed that one-third of elderly, gravely ill hospital patients are tagged to receive Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, even though they had stated they did not want this aggressive and painful intervention.  The procedure not only breaks ribs and causes bruising, it also has a low rate of success.

The authors called for inappropriate CPR to be reclassified as a hospital error, and said it showed a lack of communication between patients, relatives and hospital staff.

Meanwhile, General Practitioners who earn the least but are most involved in day-to-day patient care, continue to face arrest and imprisonment for assisting elderly and terminally ill people to die in peace at home, in their own beds. In December 2015 a GP was investigated by police for giving an elderly person a potentially lethal dose of medication. According to Dr Kosky’s notes, the patient was ‘starving herself to death’.

Rodney Syme, a doctor and vice-president of Dying with Dignity Victoria has also faced police investigations for allegedly supporting elderly, frail and terminal patients to die at home, peacefully.

Andrew Denton, an ABC interviewer, made the point that the fact that assisted suicide was illegal meant that it had to occur in secrecy. This secrecy actually raised the risk to patients of coming to some harm.

 Meanwhile, an Emergency Registrar has spoken openly about the problems faced by elderly patients, their families and the hospital system, when they come into the hospital system without a legal plan one end of life care. The doctor talks honestly about going home crying after doing futile and painful CPR on an elderly patient. She points out that many people have not idea what ‘active treatment’ for elderly frail people actually involves. Mechanical ventilation, large and painful central lines, cardiac pacing, are not shown to the general public. Hospitals are held in awe. Doctors are seen as life savers. This is not always realistic or true.
Wikihospitals Feburary 2016

 

References

Third of dying hospital patients marked to receive CPR against their wishes, Canadian study saysThird of dying hospital patients marked to receive CPR against their wishes, Canadian study says. National Post. Tom Blackwell. 23rd November 2015.

Police pursuit of GP accused of assisting death ‘highlights need for a law’. The Age, Julia Medew, 18th December 2015.

The day I meet you in the Emergency Department will probably be one of the worst in your life. The Age, Dr. Ashleigh Witt, November 6th 2015.

In the End. 2010 Film Australia and Yew Tree Films. Featuring Dr Charlie Cork, Geelong Intensive Care specialist

Vital Signs. Dr Ken Hillman. UNSW press 2010.