By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
For many years I have stated that once death by dehydration becomes common people will react by demanding death by lethal injection. Death by dehydration is not a compassionate death.
More than 1,000 care home residents have died of thirst or while suffering severe dehydration over the past decade.
Elderly and vulnerable patients were left without enough water despite being under the supervision of trained staff in homes in England and Wales.
"How can we call ourselves civilised when people are left to starve or die of thirst? â€¦ It is an utter disgrace that they are ever left without the most basic care," said Dr Alison Cook, a director at the Alzheimer's Society.
Some 318 care home residents were found to have died from starvation or when severely malnourished, while 2,815 deaths were linked to bed sores.
The real figures are likely to be far higher because residents who died while in hospital were not included.
In 2011 a BBC Panorama investigation secretly filmed staff at Winterbourne View private hospital, near Bristol, hitting and taunting patients with learning disabilities. Six staff members were eventually jailed, while 19 patients are due to receive compensation. In October a coroner said that Orchid View care home, near Crawley, West Sussex, where 19 residents died, was riddled with "institutionalised abuse" and criticised the CQC for rating it as good in 2010.
Norman Lamb, the care and support minister, said the deaths from thirst and starvation were "entirely unacceptable".