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Witholding tube feeds in a stroke patient
Question from Vilma on 7/7/2013:

My father in law recently had a stroke. He is mostly sleepy but awakens occasionally. He is presently on tube feeds and will soon transition to a gastric tube. My father in law said he did not want the gastric tube placed. He is 89 years old and may not make a full recovery as he has left sided weakness and inability to swallow. As his family and in keeping with Catholic teachings can we withhold feelings or not have the gastric tube placed? Please advice. Thank you. God bless. Vilma

Answer by Judie Brown on 7/10/2013:

Dear Vilma

I presented your question to an expert and the fundamental question confronting you is one that cannot be answered. We do not know whether or not your father in law was instructed as to the benefits of having the PEG tube. If he received all of the information according to those with whom we work, that would be a rarity. Most doctors these days only discuss the negatives.

Having said that my instinct would be to say that PEG tube feeding (I'm assuming that is what she means by gastric tube, as opposed to nasogastric tube) is ordinary nutrition/hydration, and that Catholic teaching would require ordinary care.

I hope this helps.

Judie Brown

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