Well­ness Arti­cles

Doc­tors Speed Death of ill Babies

This shock­ing head­line comes from the April 8, 2005 United Press Inter­na­tional, but was also reported by Reuters news ser­vice and Med­ical News Today. The basis of this head­line is a sur­vey of doc­tors in Bel­gium recently pub­lished in the The Lancet med­ical jour­nal, that showed that when faced with a crit­i­cally ill baby, three out of four doc­tors polled would be will­ing to take action that they knew could result in the child’s death. The arti­cle goes fur­ther to reveal that some had already done so.

Pro­fes­sor Luc Deliens (Vrije Uni­ver­siteit Brus­sels, Bel­gium) and col­leagues looked at the death cer­tifi­cates for all neonates and infants in the whole of Flan­ders (a province in Bel­gium) who died between August 1999 and July 2000. Researchers looked at 292 chil­dren that were born alive and died in Flan­ders within the first year of life over the period of the study. They iden­ti­fied 175 doc­tors who were in charge of these cases and sent them anony­mous ques­tion­naires. Of all that were sent the ques­tion­naire, 121 of the 175 doc­tors involved com­pleted the ques­tions. The study revealed that in 143 cases, or 57 per­cent, an end-​of-​life deci­sion had been taken. These deci­sions involved either with­hold­ing treat­ment, giv­ing drugs to alle­vi­ate pain in doses that could shorten the life of the child or admin­is­ter­ing a lethal dose of a treatment.

Pro­fes­sor Deliens con­cluded: “We found that about three in four physi­cians who are con­fronted with crit­i­cally ill neonates and infants are will­ing to par­tic­i­pate in cer­tain forms of life ter­mi­na­tion in these chil­dren. The main rea­sons for short­en­ing of the neonate’s life were the absence of real sur­vival chances, and, if the baby sur­vived, an expected very poor qual­ity of life.” Pro­fes­sor Yvan Van­den­plas, also of Vrije Uni­ver­sity Brus­sels com­mented by say­ing, “When there is no chance of a pos­i­tive out­come then many pedi­a­tri­cians take an end-​of-​life decision.”

Although in Bel­gium the use of lethal drugs in minors is ille­gal, the study revealed that lethal doses or lethal drugs were admin­is­tered in 17 cases rep­re­sent­ing about 9%. The study also showed that 95 (or 79%) of the 121 doc­tors thought that their pro­fes­sional duty some­times included the pre­ven­tion of unnec­es­sary suf­fer­ing by has­ten­ing death and 69 (58%) of 120 doc­tors said they would sup­port legal­iza­tion of ter­mi­na­tion in some cases.

Ran­dom Article

A doc­u­mented case study pub­lished in the July 4, 2006 issue of the Aus­tralian research jour­nal, Chi­ro­prac­tic & Osteopa­thy, fol­lows the recov­ery of a f

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