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Artificial Nutrition and Hydration for the Terminally Ill: A Reasoned Approach

SUTER, PAULA M. MA, RN; ROGERS, JANICE RN; STRACK, CARMEN RD, LD, CNSD

doi: 10.1097/01.NHH.0000305551.55467.24
Hospice & Palliative Care

Knowledge about evidence-based research findings on the physiologic effects of artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) can be used as a framework for assisting patients and families with decision making at the end of life. This article provides a review of the credible evidence related to ANH obtained through scientifically sound research, supplies a framework for discussion about ANH with patients and families, and lists basic educational recommendations and resources that both home health and hospice nurses can use to assist with patient and family supportive efforts. The charge to nurses caring for dying patients and their families is consistently to honor patient beliefs about life—their goals and values—in a supportive, unbiased, and informational manner, which will improve the quality of life—at the end of life.

Paula M. Suter, MA, RN, is Disease Management/Telehealth Program Manager at Baptist Health Home Health and Hospice, Little Rock, AR.

Janice Rogers, RN, is Clinical Practice Specialist in Palliative Care at Baptist Health Home Health and Hospice, Little Rock, AR.

Carmen Strack, RD, LD, CNSD, is Clinical Dietitian in Oncology at Baptist Health Medical Center, Little Rock, AR.

Address for correspondence: Paula M. Suter, MA, RN, Baptist Health Home Health and Hospice, 11900 Colonel Glenn Road, Suite 2000, Little Rock, AR 72210 (e-mail: paula.suter@baptist-health.org).

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.