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Jewish ethical guidelines for resuscitation and artificial nutrition and hydration of the dying elderly.
  1. R Z Schostak
  1. Gurwin Jewish Geriatric Center, New York.


    The bioethical issues confronting the Jewish chaplain in a long-term care facility are critical, particularly as life-support systems become more sophisticated and advance directives become more commonplace. May an elderly competent patient refuse CPR in advance if it is perceived as a life-prolonging measure? May a physician withhold CPR or artificial nutrition and hydration (which some view as basic care and not as therapeutic intervention) from terminal patients with irreversible illnesses? In this study of Jewish ethics relating to these issues, the author carefully examines the moral implications and legal precedents in the literature. Jewish ethics, affirming a 'sanctity of life' position, suggest that while an elderly person may direct in advance that CPR not be administered in most instances, in the absence of a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order, CPR must be performed. In reference to 'tube-feeding', while there is some debate about whether elderly patients may refuse the initiation of 'tube-feeding', there is a consensus that once initiated, it may not be withdrawn.

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