Withdrawing Treatment

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Palliative Care teams are used to supporting patients at the end of life. But recent requests by two patients with motor neurone disease make some medical staff feel uncomfortable.

They both want to stop using the ventilator mask that is keeping them alive.

Initially prescribed to support breathing at night, their symptoms have progressed to such a degree that they can nolonger breathe without the mask.

They are aware that removing it will lead to death within hours or minutes. They both ask the palliative care team to ease their suffering during the process.

Patients have a legal right to refuse treatment, but these requests make some staff uncomfortable. Can they conscientiously object to supporting these patients at the end of their lives? Could they be accused of assisting in their deaths?

Producer Beth Eastwood

Presenter Joan Bakewell.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Thu 28 Jul 2011 21:00

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