NRL News

4 people die of dehydration/malnutrition everyday in UK hospitals

by | Feb 3, 2012

By Alex Schadenberg

Editor’s note. Mr. Schadenberg is executive editor of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. This entry appeared on his blog at

An article by Sophie Borland and published on January 22 in the Daily Mail online reports that in 2010, 1316 people died of dehydration/malnutrition in hospitals and care facilities in the UK, up from 1292 in the previous year. The article titled “Four patients die thirsty or starving EVERY DAY on our hospital wards show damning new statistics” is based on a report from the Office of National Statistics (see

According to the article, the 2010 statistics break down this way:

* 155 people died in hospital from dehydration.

* 48 people died in hospital from malnutrition.

* 812 people died from other causes, but were found to be dehydrated.

* 301 people died from other causes, but were found to be malnourished.

Officials pointed out that people who die of cancer or Alzheimer’s disease often have difficulty taking nutrition or hydration near the end of life.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association stated:

These figures are a terrible indictment of our precious National Health Service.

‘They represent avoidable deaths. These people needed our care when they were at their most vulnerable.’

Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said:

‘There must be systematic monitoring of malnutrition in older patients. From the hospital ward to the hospital board, everyone needs to take responsibility and help stop this scandal.’

Early this month Prime Minister [David] Cameron announced that nurses would have to undertake hourly ward rounds to check whether patients are hungry or thirsty, need help going to the lavatory or are in pain or discomfort.

The article stated that:

“Reports by the Care Quality Commission, the Health Service Ombudsman and the Patients Association have all highlighted poor care. In October, a review by the CQC watchdog found that half of 100 hospitals visited by its inspectors were not doing enough to ensure elderly patients had enough to eat or drink.

“In Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, Worcestershire, doctors had resorted to prescribing patients with drinking water to ensure nurses did not forget.”

Many of the deaths by dehydration / malnutrition are the result of the poor care from indifference, neglect and elder abuse. Some of these deaths are due to the abuse of the proper use of palliative care techniques.

It is common knowledge that when a person is dying and nearing death, often they lose the ability to eat or drink or are unable to assimilate fluids and food. These circumstances are signs that death is nearing.

But today, many medical professionals are using dehydration as a way to cause death. People who are difficult to care for, or people with difficult symptom management issues, or people who are, for some reason, not otherwise dying are dehydrated to death.

This is another form of euthanasia. The person is directly and intentionally killed by dehydration. Many people call this “slow euthanasia” and others call it euthanasia by dehydration.

If euthanasia or assisted suicide became legal, these cases would represent the difficult cases that show that 32% of euthanasia deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium, died by euthanasia without request or consent.

Categories: Euthanasia