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LCP is "assisted death pathway", states Professor

Clinical Negligence News : 5 July 2012

Doctors have been accused by senior consultant Professor Patrick Pullicino of using a care pathway as an equivalent of euthanasia.

Professor Pullicino, who works at East Kent Hospitals, has described the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) as being used by doctors as an “assisted death pathway”.  The LCP, which is used to give the best possible quality of life for those who are expected to pass away within hours or days, is used throughout the country in many hospitals and care homes.

Of all the patients who die in hospitals or under NHS care, about 30% are on the LCP. Professor Pullicino believes that too many patients are placed on the pathway, which allows doctors to withdraw treatment, food and water, without leaving evidence of doing so. Pullicino stated that he had personally taken a 71 year old man off of the LCP and as a result, the man continued to live for another 14 months. He added that this wasn’t the only case of its type, and believes that many patients who had been placed on the LCP could have survived for longer if they hadn’t.

The Professor stated that it isn’t possible to predict death in a specific time frame so placing a patient on the LCP often leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. He argues that without the LCP, some patients could potentially have a slightly extended life.

A spokesman from the Department of Health denied that the LCP was euthanasia and stated that it is recommended by Nice and in addition, has overwhelming support from clinicians including the Royal College of Physicians.