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Deadly Drug Combo Used to Treat Elderly COVID Patients in Scotland

After reviewing testimony from the Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry, former nurse and healthcare educator John Campbell, Ph.D., called for a systematic inquiry into the end-of-life protocols administered to elderly patients who may not have needed them.

An ongoing Scottish COVID-19 Inquiry included testimony that raised concerns about the unnecessary administration of end-of-life protocols to COVID-19 patients in care homes — including the use of drugs like midazolam and morphine that may be linked to patient deaths.

“There needs to be a thorough qualitative analysis of this evidence,” followed by a quantitative study of the medical records of all of the patients in question, medical commentator John Campbell, Ph.D., said on his YouTube show.

The independent inquiry, now in its 51st day, is investigating failures in Scotland’s response to the pandemic and drawing “lessons learned.” It has included testimony from government officials and Scottish citizens affected by the COVID-19 response.

Campbell shared a video, compiled by an independent researcher, with snippets from several testimonies by people whose elderly family members died while being treated in care homes.

Each person reported that their elderly relative was administered an end-of-life protocol when they were still active and only mildly ill. They all subsequently died.

The witnesses reported learning their family members received midazolam, a strong benzodiazepine, and often morphine. In their witness statements — available online — they shared their shock and dismay with the treatment, the lack of informed consent, and what they believed was fraudulent behavior.

Campbell, whose Ph.D. is in nursing, said the combination of midazolam and morphine has a depressive effect on the respiratory system and can be particularly risky for people on ventilation.

The drug combination “can be utterly brilliant for people that are definitely dying,” reducing pain for terminal cancer patients, for example. However, “If it’s given to people who have some respiratory tract infections, people who are a bit unwell, then it needs to be monitored much more carefully,” he said.

“The question is, was it in these cases?” he asked.

Campbell also shared testimony from a worker at Independent Care Homes Scotland, who said that when patients did not respond to antibiotics, they were given “just-in-case” protocols, which he said are the end-of-life protocols described in the testimonials.

Campbell said he thinks these testimonies, taken together, provide the basis for “a positive way forward,” because they are a key piece of evidence for understanding what went wrong during the pandemic.

First, he said all of the transcripts, which are in the public domain and available online, ought to be downloaded and systematically analyzed by qualitative researchers.

Researchers can then establish whether midazolam was consistently given too early, whether it was given in combination with morphine and whether the testimonies raise other systematic problems.

Then, he said, there should be a quantitative analysis of the patient records, examining times of death, their relationship to when drugs were administered and other information that would help to confirm what led to patient deaths.

Campbell also said this type of research should be done everywhere, because he has heard similar reports from other countries, including England.

“Is Scotland unique?” he asked. “Well, I think the answer to that is, ‘sadly no.’”

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