More MS news articles for May 2000

British Disabled Join Resuscitation Debate-Papers

LONDON (Reuters) - Parents of disabled children are being pressured into allowing doctors to withhold life-saving treatment in the latest twist in the "not for resuscitation" saga, a British newspaper said on Sunday.

The reports follow allegations that elderly patients were being allowed to die by doctors in Britain's beleaguered National Health Service.

The Sunday Telegraph said parents of disabled children were not being informed that their children may die as a result of doctors withholding treatment.

It charged that seriously disabled children were being left to die because doctors had deemed their quality of life so poor they did not merit being kept alive.

Ann Hargadon said doctors tried to persuade her to allow them to withhold treatment from her disabled son when he was just 12 months old but she resisted and her son lived to be 12.

"They ticked us off like two-year-olds for wanting to keep our son alive," she told the paper.

Another mother, Carol Glass, told the Sunday Mirror newspaper that doctors over-ruled her wishes and injected her severely disabled son David with the painkiller diamorphine before leaving him to "die with dignity" -- a decision she refused to accept.

"It seems that some doctors believe they can play God," Glass, who now looks after David at home, said in the Mirror.

The head of mental health charity Mencap, Richard Kramer, said he had heard of instances of doctors discriminating against disabled patients.

"We are worried that doctors seem to be saying that people with learning difficulties are not worthy of the same respect," Kramer said in the Sunday Telegraph.

"Our big concern is whether doctors are making judgements without consulting parents and carers," he added.

Earlier this month British charity Age Concern compiled a list of 50 elderly patients who were labeled "not for resuscitation" by British doctors without their consent.

At the time the Department of Health said it did not plan to investigate whether the claims were widespread, saying doctors and hospitals had clear guidelines on the issue.