Care of the Dying - doctors admit problems

Posted by Jacqui O'Rourke on

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The Liverpool Care Pathway (CP) is a care pathway for people who are dying.

The idea behind the pathway is to make sure that people get the same high standard of care, with all their needs attended to, whether they are dying in a hospice, at home, in hospital or in a care home. Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) have said that patients may have put on the LCP when it was not suitable, as hospitals were offered financial incentives to do so. Some patients had also remained on the pathway for weeks without follow up. There are some misconceptions about the LCP.

The Liverpool Care Pathway does:

  • require that all decisions to either continue or to stop a treatment are taken in the best interest of each patient
  • mean that carers and families should always be included in the decision-making process
  • aim to prevent dying patients from receiving treatment or tests that are not beneficial and that may in fact cause harm
  • rely on staff being trained to have a thorough understanding of how to care for people who are in their last days or hours of life
  • require continual evaluation in all the places where it is in use.

The Liverpool Care Pathway does not:

  • replace clinical judgment and is not a treatment, but is a framework for good practice
  • preclude the use of clinically assisted nutrition or hydration - it prompts clinicians to consider whether it is needed and is in the person's best interest.

Ministers ordered an inquiry as relatives of dying patients had complained that the pathway was implemented without consent. However, during the BMA conference doctors made it clear that the LCP was an important part of end- of- life care.  To read more click here

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About the Author

Photograph of Jacqui O'Rourke

Jacqui is a Nurse Advisor and Medical Researcher in our Clinical Negligence team with over 18 years of experience as a registered nurse.

Jacqui O'Rourke
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023 8085 7135

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