Nutrition & Hydration – Rules to Know

Morality is a code of conduct which is followed by members of a civilized society. Here are some practical “rules” for making moral decisions regarding the provision or withdrawal of food and fluids, whether the patient is fed orally or through a tube: 1. While inserting a feeding tube may require surgery or other medical expertise, food and fluids themselves are not medical treatment because they do not cure; they sustain life.   2. Removing food and fluids from those able to eat and drink on their own or with the assistance of another person is never appropriate. 3. Tube-feeding persistently non-responsive patients is obligatory in most cases since it is beneficial and usually does not add a serious burden. 4. For terminally ill patients, the provision of food and fluids is generally obligatory (required because it is necessary and ordinary) care. 5. When death is so close that further nutrition and hydration will no longer sustain life, they may be discontinued if the patient is more comfortable without them. 6. It is most important to examine intent. Is the intention to hasten or cause death? Then the omission of food and fluids is inappropriate and morally unethical. [July/August 2002; reprinted in Illinois Nurses for Life...

End of Life Care Decisions? What to Do?…Do No Harm

"The administration of food and liquids, even artificially, is part of the normal treatment always due to the patient when this is not burdensome for him: their undue suspension could be real and properly so-called euthanasia." Decisions affecting treatment and care at the end of a person's life can present extraordinary difficulties for those involved. The moral responsibility of self-preservation obliges everyone to use the normal means the medicine can offer for preserving one's life. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ END OF LIFE WEBSITES Prenatal Partners For Life – support for parents of babies with severe problems www.prenatalpartnersforlife.org Chart of State Laws Regarding End Of Life Care http://www.nrlc.org/euthanasia/willtolive/mapgraphic.pdf The Will to Live Project http://www.nrlc.org/euthanasia/willtolive/index.html http://www.nrlc.org/euthanasia/willtolive/StatesList.html ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The public recognition of issues about treatment and care at the end of life has made almost everyone aware, if not fearful, of the possibility of becoming dependent upon other people and technological help to sustain one's life when a life-threatening condition befalls oneself or a loved one. The impending sense of loss can become entwined with other emotions surrounding serious questions about appropriate care of the seriously ill or dying person. Since many families do not discuss these matters beforehand, decisions often have to be made when the result is a matter of life and death. There are many questions that could be clarified beforehand by a loving and frank discussion within the family. Many people make statements about not wanting to be "put on a tube" or "hooked up to a machine." They fear that their lives will be prolonged needlessly when there is no chance of getting better, an idea that has been planted...