Ethics, Law, and Nutritional Support

Rebecca S. Dresser, JD; Eugene V. Boisaubin Jr, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1985;145(1):122-124. doi:10.1001/archinte.1985.00360010158025.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Nutritional assessment and support of patients have evolved into well-accepted medical practices in the last ten years. Enteral and intravenous (IV) feeding procedures are a routine component of the medical treatment of a large number of patients, both in and out of hospitals. Clinicians today also possess the technical means to nourish a group of patients that previously could not be supported: unconscious patients incapable of taking food orally. With advanced techniques of nutritional support, however, come questions about the propriety of their administration to particular patients. Just as many choices about medical care are influenced by moral beliefs and legal considerations, so are decisions to deliver or withhold nutrition. This article discusses ethical and legal issues raised in these situations and analyzes a case in which the choice of whether to feed the patient depends heavily on the application of two moral principles—beneficence and autonomy.

Feeding unconscious patients can


Sign In to Access Full Content

Don't have Access?

Register and get free email Table of Contents alerts, saved searches, PowerPoint downloads, CME quizzes, and more

Subscribe for full-text access to content from 1998 forward and a host of useful features

Activate your current subscription (AMA members and current subscribers)

Purchase Online Access to this article for 24 hours

First Page Preview

View Large
First page PDF preview





Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).
Submit a Comment


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Sign In to Access Full Content

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.