2019-130, due care criteria complied with

Straightforward notification, findings letter.

The patient, a man in his 80s, had suffered for many years from a condition affecting his heart muscle, inhibiting its ability to pump blood (ischaemic cardiomyopathy). The ultimate diagnosis was terminal heart failure. His condition was incurable. He could only be treated palliatively.

The patient’s symptoms consisted of chest pain, severe shortness of breath, extreme fatigue after minor exertion and general malaise. He could no longer go to the toilet by himself and even moving in bed caused additional shortness of breath. He could only sip water and was no longer able to eat. Oxygen provided no relief and morphine helped to only a limited extent. It was difficult for him to accept that he was no longer able to pursue a hobby in which he had won many prizes. The patient 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.