Doctors from European countries, including Spain and France, are said to be turning to euthanasia to ease the burden of coronaviruses on already overwhelmed health services.
In Spain and France, coronavirus deaths have skyrocketed above the official death toll in China, where the outbreak began.
In Spain, 130,759 cases have been reported, with 4,591 deaths, while in France, 89,953 people have had or have the virus, of which 7,560 have died so far.
And although euthanasia is illegal in both countries, doctors said there was a “temptation” to use it.
Spanish doctors have also been advised not to use respirators for patients over the age of 80.
Doctors from European countries, including Spain and France, are said to be turning to euthanasia to ease the burden of coronaviruses on already overwhelmed health services. In the photo: a French doctor wears a mask while talking on the phone in Tours, in the west of France
In Spain, a former member of the Catalan Parliament claimed that some elderly patients and those with pre-existing conditions were receiving morphine to avoid “futility in health care”.
Alfons Lopez Tena wrote in a tweet: “The Catalan government decides to let die coronavirus patients who have” fewer years to live “, [and recommends] not “admitting patients with little benefit to the hospital.”
“Elders and those with pre-existing conditions will be given morphine to avoid” the futility of health care “,” he added.
The region of Catalonia, in the northeast of Spain, has nearly 24,000 cases of COVID-19 and admissions to intensive care units have tripled in recent weeks.
Yahoo News reported that, according to the regional newspaper LaVanguardia, the document cited by Mr. Tena also recommends that doctors not use respirators for patients over 80 years of age.
In Spain and France, coronavirus deaths have skyrocketed above the official death toll in China, where the outbreak began. In the photo: mortuary workers wear face masks and gloves as they transport a coffin to Madrid yesterday
He added that extremely sick patients should be allowed to die at home rather than be hospitalized.
And in France, Dr. Bernard Devalois, a palliative care doctor in Bordeaux, warned that with reports of shortages of morphine and midazolam – which, when used together, help soothe the end of life – there would have a “temptation to euthanasia” in the care of homes where the staff is confronted with the terrible suffering of asphyxiation.
The shortages would mean that people with extremely sick coronaviruses face an agonizing death.
Professor Olivier Guerin, who heads the French Society of Gerontology and Geriatrics (SFGG), said that doctors must choose who to resuscitate.
“Choosing who should be resuscitated is what the intensive care teams do all the time,” he said.
And Dr. Thibaud Soumagne, a pulmonologist who works in an intensive care unit in Besançon near the Swiss border, explained that resuscitation is sometimes not beneficial in the long term for patients suffering from extreme respiratory problems.
“We would make them suffer for nothing,” he added.
Professor Regis Aubry, former head of the French Society for Palliative Care (SFAP), who works in a special COVID-19 unit at another hospital in eastern France, said the victims died without the comfort of their friends and family – for fear of infection – they had to make their end of life as comfortable as possible.
“Just because we are in an emergency, we must not forget to be human,” he told AFP.
The SFAP has set up a hotline to advise the staff of retirement homes, where more than 2,000 people have died in France since the start of the epidemic.
The company said homes should receive more medical support for palliative care, as others have called for the lifting of restrictions on the use of certain drugs outside hospitals.
In Spain, Alfons Lopez Tena, a former member of the Catalan Parliament, said that some elderly patients and those with pre-existing conditions were given morphine to avoid “futility in health care”
Mobile palliative care units are also set up in certain regions of the country.
Dr. Devalois stated that the breathing difficulties associated with severe COVID-19 cause great anxiety and that patients may need to be treated with anti-anxiety medications such as alprazolam (Xanax) and prazepam (Lysanxia) ‘they could still take them orally.
But when they suffer from suffocation, they must be deeply sedated quickly, he added.
Dr Devalois argued that authorities should request hospital pharmacies to send sufficient supplies of medicines such as midazolam to retirement homes, which normally do not have access to them.
He said the caregivers’ mission should be to make sure the victims don’t die horribly.
With up to a third of deaths from the virus in France occurring in retirement homes, Professor Claude Jeandel, head of the national geriatricians group, said assistants should have access to drugs recommended by SFAP.
He said they should alleviate the plight of “the suffocation for the very large number of residents who will not be hospitalized and who will die in homes.”