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Annals of Government Medicine

Under the U.K.’s National Health Service, death panels put patients who are believed to be terminally ill on a “death pathway.” Of course, it is sometimes inconvenient to mention the fact to the patient’s relatives:

NHS doctors are failing to inform up to half of families that their loved ones have been put on a scheme to help end their lives, the Royal College of Physicians has found.

Tens of thousands of patients with terminal illnesses are being placed on a “death pathway”, almost double the number just two years ago, a study published today shows.

Health service guidance states that doctors should discuss with relations whether or not their loved one is placed on the scheme which allows medical staff to withdraw fluid and drugs in a patient’s final days. In many cases this is not happening, an audit has found. As many as 2,500 families were not told that their loved ones had been put on the so-called Liverpool Care Pathway, the study disclosed.

Note that the number of “death pathway” assignments has nearly doubled in the last two years. Hey, money is tight! And it turns out that such assignments are sometimes premature:

Concerns about the pathway were raised first in The Daily Telegraph in 2009 when experts warned that in some cases patients have been put on the pathway only to recover when their families intervened, leading to questions over how people are judged to be in their “last hours and days”.

Socialized medicine can kill you, but sometimes it only adds insult to injury. As in the case of the NHS ambulance that arrived to pick up a man for his podiatry appointment–four years after his death.

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