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[Tube-feeding in advanced dementia. An evidence-based ethical analysis].

Research paper by M M Synofzik

Indexed on: 13 Feb '07Published on: 13 Feb '07Published in: Der Nervenarzt



Abstract

Lacking clear empirical evidence and ethical obligations, decision-making about tube-feeding in patients with advanced dementia often presents as a difficult problem in clinical routine. Based on the principles of beneficence, non-maleficence and autonomy, an ethical analysis of the empirical evidence shows that tube-feeding should be avoided in many patients with advanced dementia: Recent studies demonstrate (1) that there is no proof of any benefit, (2) that tube-feeding often results in further harm to the dementia patient and (3) that the patient's will is not sufficiently taken into consideration. A practical model for interdisciplinary decision-making can account for these various difficulties and might improve the empirically and ethically highly complex process of decision-making about tube feeding in patients with advanced dementia.