by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, RT
As an NHS doctor, I’ve seen people die and be listed as a victim of coronavirus without ever being tested for it. But unless we have accurate data, we won’t know which has killed more: the disease or the lockdown?
I suppose most people would be somewhat surprised to know that the cause of death, as written on death certificates, is often little more than an educated guess. Most people die when they are old, often over eighty. There is very rarely going to be a post-mortem carried out, which means that, as a doctor, you have a think about the patient’s symptoms in the last two weeks of life or so. You go back over the notes to look for existing medical conditions.
Previous stroke, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, angina, dementia and suchlike. Then you talk to the relatives and carers and try to find out what they saw. Did they struggle for breath, were they gradually going downhill, not eating or drinking?
If I saw them in the last two weeks of life, what do I think was the most likely cause of death? There are, of course, other factors. Did they fall, did they break a leg and have an operation – in which case a post-mortem would more likely be carried out to find out if the operation was a cause.
© 2020 RT