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Editor's Correspondence |

The Ethical Requirement to Provide Hydration and Nutrition

Fritz Baumgartner, MD
Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(12):1324-1325. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.12.1324-a.
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The disturbing Commentary by Truog and Cochrane1 implies that it is acceptable to not only withhold tube feedings but also natural oral hydration and nutrition from patients in persistent vegetative states. The authors contend that “the withdrawal of oral nutrition and hydration from patients who are capable of eating and drinking has a firm ethical and legal basis”1(p2576) and “provides a coherent response to the request from Schiavo's parents that she receive oral feedings and justifies the decision to withhold them from her.”1(p2576) Has medicine with its technologic advances become so vacant of its humanistic roots that it could tell the parents of a living, breathing human being that they cannot give food and water to their daughter's parched lips?

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