Voluntarily stopping eating and drinking among patients with serious advanced illness?clinical, ethical, and legal aspects

Timothy E. Quill, Linda Ganzini, Robert D. Truog, Thaddeus Mason Pope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Patients with advanced illnesses sometimes request that physicians help hasten their death. Increasingly in North America and Europe, legal options allow physicians to perform this role. Among death-hastening options, the spotlight has been on physician-assisted death. However, voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED) is also a course that patients may choose. Although VSED theoretically does not require physician involvement, clinician participation is critical in terms of initial assessment and ongoing management. In this review, we examine both clinical issues in assessing patients who are considering VSED and the clinical challenges that may emerge during VSED. We also explore some of the underlying ethical and legal considerations for physicians who either care for or decline to care for these patients. Physicians who care for seriously ill patients should be prepared to respond to patients’ requests to participate in VSED.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-127
Number of pages5
JournalJAMA internal medicine
Volume178
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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