Sunday, January 24, 2010

End Of Life Care

A few days ago, a British jury found 57 year old Frances Inglis guilty of murder.

Her case is at once both simple and complex. That she carried out a pre-meditated attempt to kill her son can be in no doubt. She used a fale name to gain access to him (having tried this once before), carried two syringes loaded with heroin which she is said to have injected him with, barricaded the door, and glued the lock shut.

So by the law of the land, this is murder. She killed her own son. She had tried and failed before, she knew exactly what she was doing, and that it was wrong.

Her son, Thomas, was resident in a long term care facility, I believe, having been in a persistant vegitative state since sustaining a head injury jumping out of an ambulance.

She felt keeping him alive was crueller than killing him, declining to believe there was any chance of meaningful recovery.

Should this be considered murder?

Well, that's how the law stands, and as medics, we don't take life. But we're also supposed to alleviate suffering.

In my experience, while a few, very few, patients like Thomas g on to make some degree of recovery, they're never the way they were.

Should we be keeping them alive? Would we have done if he were 90?

I'm not sure I'd want to go on like that, but we can never know what Thomas wanted. And allowing exceptions, however reasonable they seem to be, surely paves the way for 'less' scrupulous 'mercy killings'?

I don't know, but I do believe that taking the law into your own hands isn't the answer. If you feel that's what you have to do, have the full courage of your convictions, like Mrs Inglis, and be prepared for the jail time.

1 comment:

Chrysalis Angel said...

That's why people need to talk about end of life care. Even if the child is a teen, and that has got to be difficult, but it is necessary. So many don't want to discuss death and dying, but it is a part of life. Unfortunately, sometimes it comes early.

I know I sure as heck don't want to lay there like that. I've made my wishes known to my family, and carefully chosen someone to speak for me in the event the written word is not enough. I also picked a back-up person to intercede if the first choice is not able to do so.

If only no one had to suffer these decisions.