Bioethics Blogs

Dying without Dignity – Investigations by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman into Complaints about End of Life Care

The UK Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has just published an alarming report on the end of life care, “Dying Without Dignity.”  It is a painful and sad read.

The report identifies six key themes, all illustrated with case studies

  1. Not recognising that people are dying, and not responding to their needs – if the needs of those who are close to death are not recognised, their care cannot be planned or co‐ordinated, which means more crises and distress for the person and their family and carers.
  2. Poor symptom control – people have watched their loved ones dying in pain or in an agitated state because their symptoms have been ineffectively or poorly managed.
  3. Poor communication – poor communication is an important element in our complaints on end of life care. It is clear that healthcare professionals do not always have the open and honest conversations with family members and carers that are necessary for them to understand the severity of the situation, and the subsequent choices they will have to make.
  4. Inadequate out‐of‐hours services – people who are dying and their carers suffer because of the difficulties in getting palliative care outside normal working hours.
  5. Poor care planning – a failure to plan adequately often leads to the lack of co‐ordinated care, for example, GPs and hospitals can fail to liaise.
  6. Delays in diagnosis and referrals for treatment – this can mean that people are denied the chance to plan for the end of their life and for their final wishes to be met.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.