Artificial nutrition is a medical treatment that first of all needs a sound scientific base before prescribing it. This base is absent for dying patients and patients in the end stage of dementia. Because feeding is a very emotional and symbolical issue, patient and family may request this treatment despite the lack of evidence. These issues should be addressed in good communication with patient and relatives. For comatose patients and patients in a persistent vegetative state artificial nutrition is a necessary support to bridge the time until either recovery is imminent or improbable. At that moment artificial nutrition no longer contributes to the life of the patient and should be ceased. Artificial nutrition has no place in patients that voluntary decide to stop eating and drinking in order to die.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Artificial nutrition, Coma, Dementia, End-of-life issues, Ethics, PVS
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bpg.2014.02.005, hdl.handle.net/1765/107237
Journal Best Practice and Research in Clinical Gastroenterology
Citation
van de Vathorst, S. (2014). Artificial nutrition at the end of life: Ethical issues. Best Practice and Research in Clinical Gastroenterology, 28(2), 247–253. doi:10.1016/j.bpg.2014.02.005