[Opinion] The EHPAD scandal will eclipse that of contaminated blood

The health and financial scandal called "contaminated blood" is still remembered : During the decade 1980-1990, 1350 hemophiliacs were infected with HIV (AIDS) during transfusions, and nearly a thousand of them died from it.

TKings doctors were sentenced to prison terms in this case: two directors of the National Blood Transfusion Center for "deception", and the third, Director General of Health, for "non-assistance to a person in danger". Then came the turn of the politicians: in February 1999, for the first time since the beginning of the Fifth Republic, three former ministers appeared before the Court of Justice of the Republic for “manslaughter”: the former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius and the former State Secretaries Georgina Dufoix and Edmond Hervé. Dufoix and Fabius were acquitted. Hervé was condemned, but exempted from punishment. Will politicians benefit from such leniency when the time comes to judge the way they have conducted operations in this health crisis of a completely different magnitude?

What can now be called “the Ehpad scandal” is only one aspect of the French fiasco in the face of Covid-19. But it concentrates the main bankruptcies of this national tragedy. The investigation of the magazine “Pièces à conviction” broadcast last night (November 18) on France 3 (link below) has crudely lifted the veil on its scale and cruelty. Of the 46 people who died from Covid-698 in France, nearly a third (19) are residents of public and private nursing homes (accommodation establishments for dependent elderly people). The dysfunctions witnessed by families, residents, caregivers, administrative officials are appalling. The best known concern the absence of tests, masks and means of protection during the first three weeks of March. For lack of tests, some establishments have even mixed sick and healthy in a "Covid unit". Consequence: chain contamination of residents and staff (14 contaminated employees). As the hospitals were overwhelmed, a selection was made between the elderly, most of whom were not admitted to intensive care in hospital in defiance of the principle of equal access to care. They therefore remained prisoners of nursing homes and for too many of them, condemned to a horrible death by asphyxiation due to the absence of devices to distribute oxygen in most nursing homes, equipped as hotel residences, not as hospitals. But also because of the absence of a permanent doctor and the lack of nursing staff.

Not only were the residents deprived of the care their condition required, but absurd and inhumane government instructions locked them in their rooms for weeks. They were deprived of any exit, of the possibility of walking, of any contact with nature. Supposed to protect them, this isolation has led some to let themselves "slip". Especially since visits from their families were prohibited! In short, as one “survivor” says in this gripping report, they were denied basic rights, granted to prisoners! As for their relatives, many encountered a wall of silence when they asked for news from their parents or grandparents. Worse: some have learned the real state of the loved one ... by receiving a death notice. Without having been able to send them, even from a distance, a last farewell.

Under what circumstances did these deaths occur? Often by asphyxiation, it has been said. But to spare the residents considered to be lost from painful agony, a “compassionate protocol” decreed as a matter of urgency encouraged nursing home staff to use drugs reserved for palliative care. Including a sedative, Rivotril, usually banned in city medicine and in nursing homes. As we suspected then (cf. LSDJ n ° 964), it is indeed a form of euthanasia that nursing home staff have been invited to practice. Several health executives confide in this report their deep dismay: “When we received these directives, it shocked us, testifies one of them. There, we did not give the elderly a chance to get out. "More bluntly, another, doctor in public nursing home, accuses:" We have shortened the suffering of people. I call it euthanasia. That we dared to ask us to prick our patients to make them leave faster, it is unbearable. »Nothing surprising, therefore, if in the investigation opened since the beginning of the summer by the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) against nine ministers or ex-ministers (including Edouard Phillipe and Olivier Véran), the litigation the most massive come from the families of people placed in nursing homes.

Philip Oswald

source: France 3

This article is republished from Selection of the day.

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