I try to keep the blog positive, but find myself continually heading back into the quagmire of misinformation. My last post looked at the wild claims that there have been only a ‘small’ number of COVID deaths, and for a while I thought I would leave misinformation alone. That is until I discovered the ‘Midazolam murders’.

This is not so much something that needs debunking, it is genuine nonsense, as a striking example of the effects of the unfiltered matrix of Chinese whispers that the internet can be – the web at its worst.

It is about an utterly horrible story that governments, and presumably doctors, nurses, carers and pharmacists were involved in intentionally bumping off large numbers of the elderly by using Midazolam, a benzodiazepine drug I used when practising as a part of what was called the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) for palliative care of the dying, particularly when respiratory distress is a problem.

Where has it come from?

If you search the internet for “Midazolam murders”, you are taken to quite a number of well produced websites. They claim most of the first wave of COVID, all that time back in spring 2020, was not due to COVID at all but due to a ‘culling’ of old people in nursing homes using Midazolam. They argue this was done to make the case for vaccines.

Predominant among them is the “Plandemic” website, a central portal of wild pandemic disinformation set up by a discredited scientist, Judy Mikovits.

Another is a site called Europereloaded who end their mischievous article with a distinctly US evangelical call to arms:

“This war of attrition we are waging with nothing more than the sword of righteousness to protect us is being waged with the divine power of knowing in our hearts that we will inevitably overcome our truly malevolent array of adversaries” Oh dear!

From the same stable comes the Liberty Beacon and others such as the Bernican who have lodged legal proceedings with the police as well as the International Criminal Court who I fully expect to throw out the groups submission with the daily dose of junk mail.

So what are they saying?

The essence of their argument is there was increased procurement of Midazolam early in the pandemic around the same time of the first wave. They leap to the conclusion it was so planned to bump off swathes of the elderly; they use the horrific term, “culling”. This is backed up by anecdote which for me reflect (I’m being generous here) sad misunderstanding of medical and nursing care and why I took to write this post.

It seems that much of this has stemmed from one man whose elderly father was prescribed Midazolam and who later died. He claims that his fathers life was shortened by the prescription and this is often the case. There are not enough details reported to come to any firm conclusions, but it seems certain to be that communication might have been lacking, misinterpreted or misunderstood. The focus of the Plandemic issue rests on the reports from this one chap. Irony of irony, he was sadly found dead at home, providing excellent fodder for those seeking conspiracy, more so when the investigating coroner found he had sadly died of COVID.

Prior to his death, his anger was widely spread online. I cant help but feel a couple of conversations with his local health care providers might have helped him to understand how death is often managed.

Dying in the modern world

“Silas Marner” is George Elliotts wonderful book about life at the start of the Industrial revolution. The story is one of an embittered man whose life is transformed by unexpectedly raising a lost child. She also wrote of ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ deaths.

Without modern health care I know exactly what she meant. I won’t go into details. There was then little to ease passing. ‘Easy’ deaths are more common now due to modern health care. Symptoms which defined ‘hard’ deaths can be controlled with palliative care, a feature of which are drugs to keep the patient comfortable, even with the predictable side effect of sometimes shortening life.

The LCP was an attempt to formalise this but was dropped due to complaints about its rigidity, inappropriate interpretation and for me, the copious associated paperwork. In its place is practice more flexibility to meet the individual patients needs. In a way, its attempt to define ‘excellence’ in terminal care shows for me the facile nature of what can be called the politically driven and highly unrealistic “culture of excellence”.

Being “put on the LCP” was an acknowledgement that the end was nigh and in hospitals funding was provided to encourage its use, in particular the extra time the admin costs. This of course led to its own conspiracy theory that those who were put on the LCP were being bumped off for cash. Echoes of this present situation there!

The Midazolam reality.

What really happened is far more simple. It soon became clear that the elderly, particularly those in nursing care home, were particularly vulnerable to COVID19.
Midazolam is a very good drug for respiratory distress which is common with COVID -so more of the drug was prescribed.

That was reasonable. It is also clear the government made several very bad calls at that time. Stopping community testing and sending infected patients back into nursing homes are right up there with the worst, a long time before the present party-gate and COVID contract fraud fiascos.

The early course of the pandemic was uncertain and the fear that large numbers of elderly would die proved sadly true. There were also fears that there would be many ‘hard’ deaths, particularly with respiratory failure, which the drug can alleviate. Hence the stockpiling of Midazolam.

So in a nutshell, where there are more deaths, there will be more use of the drugs to allow people to die humanely without excess pain or distress.

That this has been morphed by mendacious internet players into doctors and nurses ‘culling’ the elderly at the behest of government is about the best description I can find of deranged thinking. Not a psychiatric illness, but such misinformation causing pathological anxiety, fear and even hatred. I have no idea what it would be like, on a day to day basis, to live with such thinking.

Mistrust of doctors as a policy is also just fine for those who don’t at this precise moment in time, need help. When the time comes in this context, Midazolam and all the others used in terminal care, might be just my right drug to help the last ambition in life – a good death.

There are real issues out there!

There are plenty of genuine pandemic scandals, some are very much in the news right now. Anger and frustration is understandable without having to resort to fantasy.

In this world of grinding inequality, lack of opportunity, failing public services, the cascade of wealth to the undeserving and unsustainable rich, as well as our destruction of the environment there is plenty of room for understandable anger without having to pluck more out of the suffocating air of the internet.

I suspect that human communication is at its best when face to face. Chinese Whispers can be created by misinterpretation and misunderstanding, but the more outlandish usually fall to earth.

With the unedited world of social media, whispers not only spread, but become amplified, exaggerated and spawn endless professional looking outlets which create further spread leading to many people believing what I see clearly as utterly false.

The so called “Midazolam Murders” stands out as a stunning example of how this comes about.


6 thoughts on “Misinformation 10 – the “Midazolam murders”

  1. I was reassured to read your wise words. I came across this midazolam theory on Facebook and challenged the man who started the FOI request for information about the use of the drug and who started this ridiculous allegation against the government.
    I told him my own father died after 6 awful months and in the last two days of his life he was given the drug to ease his ‘terminal agitation’ and as a humane palliative treatment. I was horrified that this was being suggested as mass murder and equated to being similar to the holocaust! I’m so glad you’ve raised this in a sensible way

  2. I have still, very painful memories of my grandfather, dying of lung cancer, in the early ‘60s in great pain. In my naivety I asked my mother, “Can he be given something to help him die”?
    I saw the LCP used well many years later in my nursing career. This was used with full consultation with the families and eased the passing of many.
    It is utterly ridiculous to assume that current medical staff are using covid to “cull” the elderly. There’s far too much compassion out there for that to happen.

    1. Hi Ian, thanks for the reply. I sympathise entirely; for many years opiates were underused in palliative care (such as it was), but the hospice movement and then the LCP helped them back into their proper place as an effective reliever of distress. Unfortunately the Shipman murders made opiates an administrative nightmare to use one again. I hope all is well x

  3. When my father eventually ended up in a hospice after a long illness (and many years before covid) his lack of exercise and static existence exacerbated an age-related asthma, making his breathing more laboured. I accept this is my non-expert opinion. The nurses looking after him saw an old man with saggy folds of skin and accentuated birth marks, they saw what they expected: an old man struggling with respiratory distress and seeking an end. They felt it was compassionate to give him relief with medication which further suppressed his breathing and soon he died. Was this a good death? I honestly don’t know but I think there should be a constant dialogue in society about how much people should be helped to die well, not dismissed as doctor knows best. I don’t think anyone was culling patients during covid, but it is entirely possible that well-meaning nurses/doctors, experiencing the panic and distress in the elderly in care (particularly those with dementia), caused by the initial heavy-handed response to covid generally, over-relied on medications aimed at calming patients that in fact killed quite a few of them. I accept I have no evidence for this, it is conjecture. The distress caused by preventing most family contact for such a prolonged period will, I think, be a great source of shame from a longer view of these times and this probably killed far more people than any possible overreliance on pain relief. One fundamental problem with witnessing the distress of someone (of any age) is that it can be very uncomfortable for the observer. There can be a response that serves to end this discomfort as much as it is aimed at relieving the distress.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences Colin. I agree one of the most awful aspects of the initial pandemic management was isolation of patients from their loved ones. That makes communication difficult, but not impossible. Good communication in end of life care is really important. Consent to end of life care from the family is essential, and in my experience of this situation usually forthcoming as the right treatment at the right time relieves distress for all. Medication is often not needed at all, but it is really awful not to give it when it is. For me, a good death is one which does not settle in the mind of those left behind as a dominant and painful memory.

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