Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Tuesday August 8, 2006

Doctors Dehydrated My Husband To Death: U.K. Widow

By John Jalsevac

NORFOLK, U.K., August 8, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – At the same time that the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is being investigated for allegedly starving and dehydrating a woman to death in 2003, the wife of a former patient treated on the same ward is calling for another investigation into the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of her husband.

Kate Speed claims that although her husband’s death certificate states that he died from pneumonia, that in fact he died because of a hospital-ordered dehydration, an ultimately fatal measure that neither she nor her husband approved.

“The whole of my husband’s stay in hospital was a nightmare,” Kate Speed said, according to the Times Online. “They put bronchopneumonia on the death certificate, but I believe his death was from the effects of dehydration.”

The hospital’s Kimberly ward is already under investigation by Norwich coroner William Armstrong after the death a Mrs. Olive Nockels who died at the hospital in 2003 and whose family alleges that she was dehydrated to death. According to the Times Online, physician David Maisley testified last month at the inquest into Mrs. Nockel’s death that he witnessed people die of dehydration at the hospital “all the time—two or three times a week.”

Olive Nockel’s grandson, Chris West, testified at the inquest that, “I said I wouldn’t treat my dog like that and [Dr Maisey] said it was easier for vets because they had alternative means and can ‘put animals to sleep’.”

Harold Speed, a grandfather of four and former music teacher, was admitted to the hospital in October of 2004 after suffering a heart attack. Shortly thereafter a “nil by mouth” order was instituted. This order was lifted once, after complaints by Mrs. Speed, only to be reversed once again at a later date.

Speed’s wife relates: “I saw my husband deteriorate and I have no understanding of how this was allowed to happen. I questioned hospital staff but they told me an intravenous drip would have been too painful,” she said.

“I saw my husband the day before he died. He had not been physically examined that day; his records showed he was last seen 24 hours before he died.

“My husband had been in the hospital many times before and I have nothing but praise for staff there, but the ethos in Kimberly ward is terrible and I do not believe he died of natural causes.”

Mrs. Speed says that leading up to his death Harold Speed demonstrated all the classic signs of dehydration. "His eyes were dry, sore, flat and sunken. I tried to moisten his mouth...The doctor said he was very dry and picked up the flesh from his neck. It was like picking up a sheet. His veins were flat and there was an absence of mucous.”

“We trusted, and he trusted,” says Mrs. Speed, “that the hospital would treat him well, instead of which there was a catalogue of error and apathy that led to his death, unless of course, there had been a decision, which I had no share in, that his life should no longer be preserved.”

So far hospital officials and physicians have denied that Speed died on account of dehydration. Dr Iain Brooksby, medical director, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital denied Kate Speed’s accusations saying, “Clinical examination at the time and the objective evidence of blood tests demonstrated that the late Mr Speed was definitely not dehydrated at the time of his death in November 2004,” according to the Norwich Evening News 24.

“He was satisfactorily hydrated and was receiving fluids and antibiotics for a chest infection when he died. We have explained to Mrs Speed that there was no evidence that dehydration contributed to his death and he died of bronchopneumonia and vascular disease."

Mrs. Speed, however, has been offered fiscal compensation for her husband’s death, compensation which she declined fearing that if she accepted the money the hospital would use it as leverage to brush the issue aside. “They asked me for a figure but I was afraid it was tactical and that they would then not have to answer questions. Just pay, and I would never know the truth of what happened,” she said.

Cases similar to Harold Speed’s are cropping up with increasing frequency. Last week LifeSiteNews.com reported on the case of the father of Wall Street journalist Pamela Winnick. Winnick related that doctors continually pestered her and her family into quietly “letting” her father go. Her father recovered shortly thereafter.

Along the same lines, in June of this year a prominent British bioethicist was quoted as saying that it is time to “regulate” the already existing practice of “involuntary euthanasia”. Pro-life advocates have pointed out from the beginning that the term “involuntary euthanasia” is simply a medical euphemism for murder.

See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Doctors Kept Asking To "Let" My Father Die: Wall Street Journalist

Non-Voluntary Euthanasia – Next Logical Step for Britain says Prominent Ethicist


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