The winding down and withdrawal of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) following the Neuberger Report has been met with mixed reviews. It appears that responsibility for failures of clinical care has been laid at the feet of a care pathway rather than the practitioners who used it, a rather curious
outcome given that the LCP was primarily a system of documentation, a tool with no intrinsic therapeutic properties. The Neubergerinquiry was the result of persistent and repeated reports of poor-quality end-of-life care associated with the use of the LCP. There were indeed problems with the LCP regarding the process of diagnosing dying and its approach to supportive care, particularly artificial nutrition and hydration. Some of the problems were the product of personal or professional ideology influencing goals of care rather than patient-centred considerations.
These problems were not insurmountable, however, and were being addressed by the organisation responsible for the LCP. With the removal of the LCP, we are left with no bench mark for end-of-life care, only aspirational goals for individualised care plans. It seems unlikely that practitioners who could not provide appropriate care with the LCP will do so without it.
D. MacKinthosh – JME Online First, published on January 20, 2015 as 10.1136/medethics-2014-102424