Withholding or withdrawing nutrition at the end of life
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Withholding or withdrawing nutrition at the end of life

Susan Holmes Director of research and development, Faculty of Health and Social Care, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury

Food and fluids are essential to life and play important social and psychological roles. Despite increased understanding of the appropriate use of artificial nutrition, its use is particularly challenging for professionals and families. This may be complicated by misunderstanding about its likely benefits and burdens, concern about patient suffering and ambivalence regarding the moral status of feeding. When patients are unable to meet their fluid and nutritional needs orally it is necessary to consider whether artificial nutrition is appropriate. Therapeutic decisions should be based on a clear understanding of the overall goals of care and the application of ethical principles that can provide a framework to guide practice.

Nursing Standard. 25, 14, 43-46. doi: 10.7748/ns2010.



Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review