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Am J Med. 2000 Dec 15;109(9):723-6.

Terminal nutrition: framing the debate for the withdrawal of nutritional support in terminally ill patients.

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Norwalk Hospital, Norwalk, Connecticut, USA.


Nutrition and hydration have long been considered to be life-sustaining therapies that are associated with comfort and relief of suffering. This belief is largely based on our own experiences with the sensations of thirst and hunger, which have led physicians to question whether withdrawing or withholding nutritional support from a dying patient can be morally or ethically justified. When considered in light of the available evidence, the underlying premise of this question must be reevaluated. The evidence suggests an alternative formulation, namely, that unrequested nutritional support provided by either the enteral or parenteral route to a terminally ill patient may be both medically and ethically indefensible because it may increase suffering without improving outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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