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June 14, 1995

Nutrition and Hydration for the Terminally III

JAMA. 1995;273(22):1737. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520460018016

To the Editor.  —Dr McCann and colleagues1 are to be commended for their contribution to our information about dying patients' needs regarding nutrition and hydration. Research such as this confirms what many who care for the dying have observed: that dying patients do not experience discomfort when nutrition and hydration are provided only when requested. This result has important implications for the use of artificial nutrition and hydration for patients near the end of life who can no longer express their own wishes.A decade ago, 10 well-known physicians made the then radical statement that "[n]aturally or artificially administered hydration and nutrition may be given or withheld [from hopelessly ill patients], depending on the patient's comfort."2 (This article was the consensus of the physicians who participated in a meeting hosted by the Society for the Right to Die, one of the precursor organizations of Choice In Dying.) During

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