Feeding tubes at end of life should be last resort, researchers say
There is no real benefit to using feeding tubes to care for those approaching the end of life. They should be considered only as a last possible option, according to a report from the Royal College of Physicians published Wednesday.
Tube feeding “doesn't prolong their life, it doesn't reduce complications, it doesn't improve their quality of life,” Dr. Rodney Burnham, co-chair of the RCP working party, told the BBC World Service.
The multi-disciplinary working party of RCP researchers, together with the British Society of Gastroenterology, issued their report in response to a lack of consensus among doctors on the appropriateness of feeding tubes. Researchers recommended that feeding tubes be a last resort; hand feeding, modified if necessary, should be the primary method of feeding. Patients deemed to have an “unsafe swallow” should be evaluated with a risk management approach, according to researchers. Decisions about feeding tube use should be made with a clear clinical goal, and never for the convenience of staff, they conclude.
More information is available online at www.rcplondon.ac.uk.