Seventy doctors and specialists treating brain-injury patients in a persistent vegetative state or minimally conscious state have published an opinion piece in Le Figaro in which they condemn the "living conditions imposed upon Mr Vincent Lambert".
"We wish to express, in good conscience, our lack of comprehension and extreme concern following the decision to withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration in the case of Mr Vincent Lambert".
They explain that, although most of them do not know the patient, they view his condition "as similar to that of patients in our PVS-MCS units, who have not even undergone a tracheotomy. It is patently obvious that he is not an end-of-life patient". These health professionals, some of whom "have thirty to forty years' experience in caring for and deciding what is best for these patients" recall the relevance of "the circular of 3 May 2002, which constituted a milestone in terms of the quality of care and overall treatment strategy for PVS-MCS patients" and "still serves as a benchmark today".
They question "the fact that the same team provides care for both end-of-life patients and brain-injury patients. The logic involved in both approaches is entirely different and totally incompatible". They regret that, "at no point in this sad case was an experienced team called in to give its opinion when faced with such a serious decision".
"We denounce the living conditions imposed upon Mr Vincent which are equally incomprehensible and inadmissible. They are tantamount to prolonged incarceration which is completely unacceptable and inappropriate for Mr Vincent as a person, his condition and his family and friends. In our opinion, this approach is contrary to any form of medical conduct and ethics".
These specialists are calling for Vincent Lambert to be treated in a specialist unit or care facility, and emphasise that "patients in such establishments often make remarkable progress, much to the surprise of medical staff and carers." Moreover, "they have all proved capable of having interpersonal relationships with family and friends, albeit to varying degree, but those relationships nevertheless exist and are highly valued".
"For us, ‘futile treatment’ is tantamount to giving up and neglecting a vulnerable person. We demand the reinstatement of relationship-driven, personal care".
For further reading:
Le Figaro, Tribune Collective (18/04/2018)