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Artificial Nutrition and Hydration: The Evolution of Ethics, Evidence, and Policy

Authors
  • Brody, Howard
  • Hermer, Laura D.
  • Scott, Larry D.
  • Grumbles, L. Lee
  • Kutac, Julie E.
  • McCammon, Susan D.
Publication Date
Mar 05, 2011
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown
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Abstract

INTRODUCTION: The debate over use of artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) in terminal illness, including advanced dementia, remains contentious despite extensive ethical and empirical investigation. METHODS: For this narrative review we undertook a focused, selective review of literature reflecting ethical analysis, empirical assessment of outcomes, legal responses, and thinking within the Roman Catholic religious tradition. RESULTS: The history of the debate over the past 60 years results from a complex interplay of ethical concerns, a growing empirical database, legal changes, public opinion, and financial as well as institutional concerns. Discussions of ANH today are often conducted without any understanding of this historical context. DISCUSSION: Patients’ interests could be better protected through remedial action at both the individual and the policy levels.

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