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Wednesday, June 23, 1999 Published at 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK


End of life case studies

Dr Ken Taylor was accused over withdrawing nutrition

Two recent cases highlight the dilemmas doctors face when they treat patients they believe to be terminally ill.

Health: Background Briefing: Euthanasia
Dr Ken Taylor, a Preston GP, was accused of leaving Mary Ormerod, 85, to starve after deciding to withdraw a nutritional supplement, which had to be squirted into her throat with a syringe as she was unable to feed herself.

But nurses disagreed with his decision, and reported him to the General Medical Council (GMC), the regulatory body for doctors.

[ image:  ]
He told a subsequent disciplinary hearing that the distress the feeding process caused Mrs Ormerod was "inhumane".

But the GMC decided to suspend him from practising for six months - not because he had taken the treatment away, but because he failed to listen to the nurses and consult colleagues.

The case of Dr David Moor, a Newcastle GP, also reveals the fine line doctors tread between acceptable and unacceptable practice.

Charged with murder following the death of George Liddell, an elderly and terminally-ill cancer patient, his defence, accepted by the jury, was that his only aim was to relieve end-of-life pain by giving large doses of the painkiller morphine.

But the prosecution had claimed his actions amounted to euthanasia.

[ image: Dr David Moor was acquitted of murder]
Dr David Moor was acquitted of murder
In a BBC interview following his acquittal, Dr Moor said he felt as though he had stood trial on behalf of the medical profession.

One doctor had written to him to say that his acquittal had made professional life easier for all medical practitioners.

Dr Moor said he would go through the same ordeal again if necessary to fight for the right for doctors to give terminally-ill patients the treatment they think they need.

He said: "I felt as though I was there for the profession and I was there for the people in this country. I feel very strongly about that."

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Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes

Relevant Stories

23 Jun 99 | Health
Withdrawing treatment: The reaction

23 Jun 99 | Health
BMA guidance: The main points

23 Jun 99 | Health
Doctors allowed to let patients die

11 May 99 | Health
GP's relief at murder acquittal

26 Mar 99 | Health
GP suspended for starving patient

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