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March NaN, 2000

Tube Feeding in Patients With Advanced Dementia

Author Affiliations

Phil B.FontanarosaMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorStephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Fishbein FellowIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;283(12):1563-1564. doi:10.1001/jama.283.12.1563

To the Editor: The article by Dr Finucane and colleagues1 may also have implications for adults with developmental disabilities. These patients, who often lack the capacity to make medical decisions for themselves, also age with multiple chronic medical problems. For some, a point is reached in a phase of general decline in which a feeding tube is considered. This article provides data to support the concept that feeding tube insertion may, in certain circumstances, be a medically futile intervention. In New York State, this may prove to be an especially important concept, since various statutes and regulations forbid surrogate decision makers from making decisions about withholding or withdrawing "life-sustaining treatments." This article implies that tube feeding should not be included in these statutes.

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