2019-122, due care criteria complied with

Straightforward notification, full report of findings.

The patient, a man in his eighties, had suffered for some considerable time from prostate cancer, rectal cancer, atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm), sudden deafness and idiopathic axonal sensorimotor polyneuropathy (a condition affecting the nerves resulting in reduced or altered sensation and muscles ceasing to function properly or at all). Recovery from any of these conditions was no longer possible. He could only be treated palliatively.

The patient’s suffering consisted of loss of mobility, hearing loss, shortness
of breath and incontinence. He could only walk a few steps and was in continual fear of falling. Because of difficulty walking, he regularly failed to reach the toilet in time. He experienced this situation as degrading. There was virtually nothing the patient, who had been an enterprising person, was still capable of doing, due to his conditions. He was suffering from his increasing dependency on care and was afraid that he would become bedridden. The patient knew there was no prospect of improvement in his situation and had no wish to experience further loss of dignity. He experienced his suffering as unbearable.

The physician was satisfied that this suffering was unbearable to the patient and with no prospect of improvement according to prevailing medical opinion. There were no alternative ways to alleviate his suffering that were acceptable to the patient.

The committee found that the physician had acted in accordance with the due care criteria.