Neo-neocon has a post up commenting on the alarm with which many British doctors are viewing the bureaucratic mindset when it starts to take the place of the very personal relationship between doctor and patient when said patient is nearing the end of their existence in this world. The following is an excerpt but please read the whole thing.
“Forecasting death is an inexact science,”they say. Patients are being diagnosed as being close to death “without regard to the fact that the diagnosis could be wrong.
“As a result a national wave of discontent is building up, as family and friends witness the denial of fluids and food to patients.”
In each one of the countless instances when a cold cost/benefit analysis must be made over how much care a dying patient receives, the only way these difficult decisions can be made with anything that might be called compassion is for them to be made between a patient, their family, and the doctor to whom they have entrusted their healthcare. Once this intimate and very subjective relationship is placed in the hands of government, reduced to a bureaucratic check list, it is but a very small step to lose contact with the idea that you are dealing not only with a “case” in which forms must be filled out and filed in the correct places, but with the life of an individual human being, each of whom might possess a capacity to ‘surprise” their doctors and enjoy a bit more of life than the experts thought possible.
When care would be denied in the name of compassion or in the understandable desire of the dying to not be a burden on those left behind, some, overcoming the confusion and uncertainty in facing their own mortality may whisper before the end “I’m not dead yet”. Will their voices, listened to and empathised with by the family doctor, be too faint to be heard over the shuffling of the bureaucrats paperwork?