THE CASE OF DR MUNRO: ARE THERE LESSONS TO BE LEARNT?
AbstractTHE CASE OF DR MUNRO: ARE THERE LESSONS TO BE LEARNT? * James Goodman Foundation year one doctor , St Mary's Hospital, Paddington , London ↵ * The author is very grateful for help from Professor Margaret Brazier, Dr Suzanne Ost, and Dr Amel Alghrani in writing this paper, which is an output of the AHRC funded project, The Impact of the Criminal Process on Health Care Ethics and Practice , see further <http://www.law.manchester.ac.uk/research/hccriminalprocess/index.html. GMC Fitness to Practise Hearing of Dr Munro, 5th–11th July 2007 I. INTRODUCTION Hippocrates mentioned euthanasia in the Hippocratic Oath, ‘To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death’. ‘Active euthanasia’ refers to a deliberate act to accelerate the death of a dying patient. Euthanasia comes from the Greek word ‘eu’ which means ‘goodly’ or ‘well’ and ‘thanatos’ meaning death. Despite essentially meaning ‘good death’, active or voluntary euthanasia constitutes murder under English and Scottish law providing the facts surrounding a particular case can be proven. 1 Essentially, this means that no neonatologist practising in the UK is permitted to hasten the death of an infant, even if that infant is dying. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) states that ‘Giving a medicine with the primary intent to hasten death is unlawful. Giving a medicine to relieve suffering which may, as a side effect, hasten death is lawful and can be appropriate’. 2 However, most end of life decisions regarding neonates frequently involve the withdrawal of artificial ventilation, 3 where these boundaries between lawfully withdrawing treatment and hastening death are even less well defined. This is no more so than in the surprisingly little discussed case of Doctor Michael Munro. Dr Munro, aged 41, was summoned in 2007 to appear before the General Medical Council (GMC) Fitness to Practise (FTP) Panel 4 facing allegations that he hastened the death of two dying newborn babies while working in the neo-natal … Full Text of this Article