Catholic Medical Quarterly

The Journal of the Catholic Medical Association (UK)

Building knowledge. Building faith. Protecting the vulnerable.

Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 63(4) November 2013

Practical Medical Ethics:
Protecting people while they are dying?

Advice from the Medical Ethics Alliance

Hand in prayerThe CMA is aware that there can be great pressures upon families who are worried about a poorly (and possibly dying) loved one.  Families fear raising issues of concern with staff because they fear that their loved ones may, in turn be victimised or receive less good or less enthusiastic treatment.
It is therefore important to help families with some sensible questions that they can ask. In doing this they may well protect their loved ones from harm, if the care is wrongly judged or a poor standard.
If care is appropriate, they may be able to gain reassurance and comfort from increased confidence in the care being offered.
The CMA made use of the following advice from the Medical Ethics Alliance as a part of its press release about the LCP review.

Useful Questions for Relatives, Families and Carers to ask

Relatives, families and carers of patients should be seen as partners in care at end of life. While we work to improve care towards the end of life care, we suggest the following questions that patients and their families may find helpful as they discuss their loved ones care with doctors and nurses to ensure that care is appropriate.

  • Are you sure that death is imminent?
  • Can the patient give consent to the treatment proposed?
  • Will the treatment reduce consciousness?
  • What effects will the treatment have, including the combined effects of the drugs proposed, and their effectiveness in reducing severely troublesome symptoms?
  • Will you assure that the patient will not experience thirst and can fluids be given by mouth or another way?
  • Will death be hastened by what is proposed?