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Things To Consider-Artificial Nutrition and Hydration

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Some Facts About Artificial Nutrition and Hydration
Things To Consider-Artificial Nutrition and Hydration

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Artificial Nutrition and Hydration Decision

Things To Consider

"Artificial Nutrition and Hydration and End of Life Decision Making" was originally published by Choice In Dying. This pamphlet explains, in part:

Some points to think about when making decisions about the use of artificial nutrition and hydration:

1.  What are the patients wishes? What quality of life is important to the patient?
2.  What is the goal or purpose for providing artificial nutrition and hydration? Will it bring about a cure or arrest the disease? Will it maintain an acceptable quality of life for the patient? Will it contribute to the patients comfort?
3.  Does the patient have religious, cultural or personal values that would affect a decision to continue or stop treatment?
4.  Are there any benefits that artificial nutrition and hydration offer this patient?
5.  What burdens will artificial nutrition and hydration create?
6.  Are there issues such as depression, inability to let go, guilt, unresolved issues from the past, unfinished business, affecting the decision making process of the patient, the surrogate decision maker or the health care provider?
7.  Does the state law affect the decision to stop treatment?


Watching someone we love die makes us feel powerless. But even when "nothing can be done" to cure the disease, there is a great deal that can be done to make the persons last days comfortable and even productive and meaningful. As we broaden our understanding of providing care to the dying, we are improving the management of pain and other symptoms.

Through the exceptional work of the hospice movement, we have come to recognize that care of the dying requires medical expertise and a collaboration approach among all of a patients caregivers. This collaborative approach allows caregivers to consider the total needs of the patient.

Because of the powerful symbolism that associates the provision of food and water with caring, we as caregivers (family and professional), may be uncomfortable about withholding artificial nutrition and hydration. It is important to remember that when we are entrusted with decisions about the care of the dying, the patients comfort and wishes must guide our decisionmaking, not our own. ~

Choice In Dying is now called Partnership for Caring. The pamphlet "Artificial Nutrition and Hydration and End of Life Decision Making",          # QA200, may be ordered from them for $5.95:

Partnership for Caring
1620 Eye Street NW, Suite 202,
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: 202-296-8071
Email:  pfc@partnershipforcaring.org