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Christine Dennehy
British Journal of Nursing, Vol. 15, Iss. 1, 12 Jan 2006, pp 18 - 20

The decision to provide or withhold artificial feeding in patients with advanced dementia presents a multifaceted ethical dilemma. This article analyses the issues of rights regarding such patients and explores the ethical principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, respect/autonomy, justice and veracity. Evidence points strongly to hand-feeding being the method of choice for these patients (Finucane et al, 1999; Li, 2002). However, for each case there is no right or wrong answer and the physical and psychological wellbeing of the individual patient must be taken into account.

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