Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 69(4) November 2019
In case you missed it
This letter was published in the Tablet in July 2019
Permit a mere doctor to comment on Margaret Hebblethwaite's letter, "Vincent Lambert called to a loving God", (The Tablet 20th July ), It is not the sentiment that troubles me but the method of his dying. Many may suppose that he was on what is euphemistically called "life support", which in fact is just food and fluids, usually administered by tube. St John Paul II has made it quite clear that food and fluids are basic care.
Despite our own Bland Judgement, and recent official guidance and the "Y "judgement reducing the role of the Courts, death by dehydration is not to be put on the death certificate. Is that because it is too revealing? Instead, doctors in this country are required to discuss the management with colleagues and telephone the Coroner after such a death.
However, as someone who has witnessed death by dehydration in a handicapped child, it is not something that is easily forgotten by anyone involved, let alone the parents.
Dr Anthony Cole
rtd. Consultant Paediatrician