One of the things many doctors still recommend and hospitals and nursing homes will want to force on a patient and family is the concept of tube feeding.
Of course, if the patient is in a coma or will not accept food from a spoon, tube feeding or a PEG (implanted food tube) is necessary.
But in the tragic case of Alice Gore and Jay Brouckmeersch, a feeding tube was forced upon them, without their consent.
It turns out that THERE IS NO CLINICAL STUDIES TO SHOW THAT A FEEDING TUBE HAS ANY ADVANTAGES OVER SPOON FEEDING, AND THEY HAVE A NUMBER OF RISKS TO THE PATIENT.
Hospitals routinely administer “swallow tests” where they watch a patient eat a cookie. How unscientific is that? Then somehow they decide that swallowing isn’t good enough or efficient enough, they recommend implanting a feeding tube.
Why do they do this? Because it’s much easier to hand up a bag of food and let it drip into the patient’s stomach than it is to cut food, puree food and feed it spoon by spoon to an elderly patient. Of course, most the food nursing homes serve is total crap (my clients tell me they have searched the dumpsters of nursing homes only to find packages of soy product highly processed foods and well beyond expiration date foods (empty containers, mind you, not expired food thrown out).
Nursing homes do not offer whole foods, low carb organic programs of the finest ingredients, that’s for sure. A bologna or cheese sandwich or cheap hot dogs, ground who knows what meat will do, thank you very much. Most nursing home trays are filled with crap, just check them out.
It just costs too much in the US to hand feed the elderly. But what do the probate courts do? Rip the elderly from the loving hands of their families and force them into locked down nursing homes where they are isolated.
Here is a great article on DNRs and feeding tubes.
Terminal Patients Need Facts About DNR, Tube Feeding
NEW YORK–Good communication about the dying process can reduce fear and promote decision-making, but accurate information about resuscitation and artificial hydration and feeding is often not communicated, Judith C. Ahronheim, MD, said during a teleconference on communication of end-of-life issues organized by Cancer Care, Inc.
“In a setting of advanced metastatic cancer, the chances of surviving cardiac arrest are slim, and that should be communicated to patients,” said Dr. Ahronheim, an internist who specializes in geriatric care and is also deputy executive director for Choice in Dying, an organization that fosters patient autonomy in medical decision-making.
She stressed that when discussing Do Not Resuscitate orders, “it is very important to let the patient or loved one know that going without CPR will allow death to occur peacefully and naturally.”
Although patients in intensive care are generally receiving a number of life-sustaining treatments, people view the respirator as the prototype of the treatment they want to avoid at the end of life because they fear it will be uncomfortable and unnecessarily prolong life.
Dr. Ahronheim said that the respirator and accompanying treatments can be uncomfortable, but, she pointed out, many patients are sedated during this time, either intentionally with medication to keep them comfortable and keep their breathing synchronized with the respirator, or naturally because the disease produces a natural sedation.
If the Patient Is Alert
She noted that many people would rather be alert while on a respirator, but when they are alert, “the situation changes.” If the patient is expected to recover, use of the respirator is generally not an issue, but patients who are aware or fear that they’re going to die may be preoccupied with thoughts of dying and fear having the respirator disconnected.
“They need to talk about this in advance and be reassured that their dying can be made peaceful if they are taken off the respirator,” she said.
Dr. Ahronheim believes that myths have grown up around artificial hydration and nutrition, and thus patients may base their decisions about receiving such treatments on inaccurate information.
In her research (Clin Geriatric Med, May 1996), she has found four common myths .
Four Common Myths About Tube Feeding
With few exceptions, she said, there is little evidence that tube feeding provides comfort to dying patients. “In most cases, a patient will be more comfortable if food and fluids are given according to his or her desire,” she said.
Tube feeding also has many potential side effects and is often very poorly tolerated, she said. Theoretically, nasogastric feeding could impair swallowing and reduce the competence of the lower esophageal sphincter, while gastrostomy tubes might enhance gastroesophageal reflux, she commented.
As for preventing aspiration, Dr. Ahronheim said there is no reliable information that tube-fed patents do better or worse than impaired spoon-fed patients, and a review of the literature fails to demonstrate any evidence that any form of tube feeding reduces the risk of aspiration pneumonia.
Forgoing artificial nutrition and hydration at the end of life will not lead to a painful death, Dr. Ahronheim said. Rather, it is consistent with a peaceful and pain-free death, as occurs when a patient is in a coma. Life-sustaining treatments may awaken patients from this natural anesthesia, preventing death from occurring peacefully and naturally.