Artificial nutrition has become a standard of care in some institutions. It is considered a way to provide nutrition to cognitively impaired individuals, regardless of prognosis. More than 216,000 feeding tubes were placed in 2000, and in 30% of such cases, the patient was demented [Geriatrics. 2006;61(5):30-35]. In this article, we present a case example as we examine the background and reasons for this practice. We also offer a method by which to evaluate and determine the medical and ethical appropriateness of artificial nutrition in each situation.
Author Affiliations: Patrick J. Coyne, MSN, APRN, ACHPN, FAAN, FPCN, Clinical Director, Thomas Palliative Care Program, Medical College of Virginia Hospitals/Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems, Richmond, VA.
Laurie J. Lyckholm, MD, Professor and Fellowship Program Director, Hematology/Oncology and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Health Systems, Richmond, VA.
Address correspondence to Patrick J. Coyne, MSN, APRN, ACHPN, FAAN, FPCN, Thomas Palliative Care Program, Medical College of Virginia Hospitals/Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems, PO Box 980007, Richmond VA 23298 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
There is no funding to declare for either author.