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J Med Ethics 20:139-145 doi:10.1136/jme.20.3.139
  • Research Article

On withholding nutrition and hydration in the terminally ill: has palliative medicine gone too far?

Abstract

This paper explores ethical issues relating to the management of patients who are terminally ill and unable to maintain their own nutrition and hydration. A policy of sedation without hydration or nutrition is used in palliative medicine under certain circumstances. The author argues that this policy is dangerous, medically, ethically and legally, and can be disturbing for relatives. The role of the family in management is discussed. This issue requires wide debate by the public and the profession.