Principle-based ethics and nurses' attitudes towards artificial feeding.
Nurses often institute artificial feeding for patients who would otherwise starve. Recently, the courts in the United States have favoured withholding or withdrawing feedings from patients who currently refuse or previously gave some indication they would refuse artificial nutrition and hydration. This paper investigates under what circumstances nurses feel justified in withholding artificial nutrition and hydration. Structured interviews were conducted with 40 cancer care nurses from two sites, and 40 dementia care nurses from two sites. The interviews were based on two vignettes, one involving an alert patient with terminal cancer, the other a patient suffering end-stage Alzheimer's dementia, and were analysed for themes coinciding with principles of deontological ethics. Investigators found that autonomy, beneficence and non-maleficence most often guided nurses' decisions to withhold or implement artificial feeding.
Day, L; Drought, T; Davis, AJ
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