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September 5, 2012

PEG

When to Recommend a PEG Tube: A Decision Tree for Clinicans from a Catholic Perspective

The question of assisted nutrition and hydration often presents great challenges not only for patients and families, but also for physicians. Catholic moral teaching can be of great help to all people of good will in meeting this challenge. An article issued in the February 2012 Linacre Quarterly by the Catholic Medical Association’s Ad-Hoc PEG Tube Study Group provides resources for ethical and clinical decision making.

When to Recommend a PEG Tube: A Decision Tree for Clinicans from a Catholic Perspective

The question of tube feeding often presents great challenges for the physician. Catholic moral teaching can be of great help to all people of good will in meeting this challenge. The Church teaches that tube feeding is, in principle, ordinary care and hence morally obligatory. How should clinicians go about deciding when to recommend tube feeding in a manner that serves the best interests of the patient and is in harmony with the Church’s teaching? A PEG tube should be recommended when a patient is not eating or drinking adequately, has more than a short-term need, is not imminently dying, and has no contraindication to a PEG. This article presents a step-by-step discussion of the decision-making process to assist physicians and other health-care professionals. A decision tree is included that is clinically focused, practical, and straightforward. The authors represent a broad range of Catholic clinical experience. Practical suggestions are offered regarding how to go about discussing this difficult subject with patients and their families. The issues of patient refusal, advance directives, and physician recusal from care are addressed. A chronological reading list on the subject of PEG tubes is provided.

Read the full article here.

Decision Tree Diagram

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