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Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking

Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking

A Compassionate, Widely-Available Option for Hastening Death

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In the 21st century, people in the developed world are living longer. They hope they will have a healthy longer life and then die relatively quickly and peacefully. But frequently that does not happen. While people are living healthy a little longer, they tend to live sick for a lot longer. And at the end of being sick before dying, they and their families are frequently faced with daunting decisions about whether to continue life prolonging medical treatments orwhether to find meaningful and forthright ways to die more easily and quickly. In this context, some people are searching for more and better options to hasten death. They may be experiencing unacceptable suffering in the present or may fear it in the near future. But they do not know the full range of options legally available to them. Voluntary stopping eating and drinking (VSED), though relatively unknown and poorly understood, is a widely available option for hastening death. VSED is legally permitted in places where medical assistance in dying (MAID) is not. Andunlike U.S. jurisdictions where MAID is legally permitted, VSED is not limited to terminal illness or to those with current decision-making capacity. VSED is a compassionate option that respects patient choice. Despite its strongly misleading image of starvation, death by VSED is typically peaceful and meaningful when accompanied by adequate clinician and/or caregiver support. Moreover, the practice is not limited to avoiding unbearable suffering, but may also be used by those who are determined to avoid living with unacceptable deterioration such as severe dementia. But VSED is not for everyone. This volume provides a realistic, appropriately critical, yet supportive assessment of the practice. Eight illustrative, previously unpublished real cases are included, receiving pragmatic analysis in each chapter. The volumes integrated, multi-professional, multi-disciplinary character makes it useful for a wide range of readers:: patients considering present or future end-of-life options and their families, clinicians of all kinds, ethicists, lawyers, and institutional administrators.Appendices include recommended elements of an advance directive for stopping eating and drinking in ones future if and when decision making capacity is lost, and what to record as cause of death on the death certificates of those who hasten death by VSED.
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  • Foreword; Preface; Acknowledgments; Contributors; Introduction; Part I. Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED) by People with Decision-Making Capacity ; 1. Illustrative Cases; 1.1 Al (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis):: Looking for Options to Hasten Death; 1.2 Bill (Breast Cancer):: Preference for Medical Aid in Dying; 1.3 Mrs. H. (Early Alzheimers Disease):: How Best to Time VSED; 1.4 G.W. (Lung Cancer):: Family and Staff Conflict; 2. Clinical Issues; 2.1 Background Issues-Palliative Care and Hospice; 2.2. Background Issues-Unacceptable Suffering and Deterioration; 2.3 Evaluation of Requests for VSED; 2.4 VSED-Key Practical Matters to Consider in Advance; 2.5 Requirements to Initiate VSED for Patients with Decision-Making Capacity; 2.6 Formal Advance Care Planning; 2.7 Managing Symptoms and Complications Once VSED Is Initiated; 2.8 Impact of Culture on VSED; 2.9 Advantages of VSED as an Option to Achieve a Desired Death; 2.10 Disadvantages and Challenges of VSED as an Option to Achieve a Desired Death; 2.11 Revisiting the Initial Cases; 3. Ethical Issues; 3.1 Introduction; 3.2 Refusing Lifesaving Treatment; 3.3 Suicide; 3.4 A Different Comparison:: Medical Aid in Dying; 3.5 Information, Encouragement, Persuasion; 3.6 Conclusions; 3.7 Ethical Issues Review of Initial Cases; 4. Legal Issues; 4.1 Introduction; 4.2 VSED Is Widely Perceived to Be Legal; 4.3 A Patients Right to VSED Is Settled Law; 4.4 Right to Refuse Includes the Right to VSED; 4.5 Assisted Suicide Laws Generally Do Not Apply; 4.6 Abuse and Neglect Laws Generally Do Not Apply; 4.7 Other Issues for Patients and Families-Life Insurance; 4.8 Other Issues for Clinicians-Informed Consent; 4.9 Other Issues for Clinicians-Conscience- Based Objections; 4.1 Revisiting the Initial Cases; 5. Institutional Issues; 5.1 Introduction; 5.2 Published Data on Patient Experience of VSED in Institutional Settings; 5.3 Institutional Barriers to VSED; 5.4 Variations in State Laws around Resident Rights; 5.5 Role of Hospice in Buffering Conflicts Between Interests of Resident and LTC Facility; 5.6 Approach to Care of Persons Requesting VSED in Institutional Settings; 5.7 Specific Care Issues for Residents Who VSED in Institutional Settings; 5.8 Moral Distress and Conscience-Based Objections; 5.9 Conclusion-Institutional Care Issues; 5.10 Case Comments from an Institutional Perspective; 6. Best Practices, Enduring Challenges, and Opportunities for VSED; 6.1 Best Practices; 6.2 Enduring Challenges; 6.3 Opportunities; Part II. Stopping Eating and Drinking by Advance Directive (SED by AD) for Persons Without Decision-Making Capacity; 7. Illustrative Cases; 7.1 Mrs. H. (Early Alzheimers):: Speculation about the Challenge of Waiting; 7.2 Steve (Early Dementia):: Patient and Family Challenges; 7.3 Patricia (Moderate Dementia):: Hastening Death by SED versus Preemptive Suicide; 7.4 Charles (Severe Dementia):: No Assistance with Oral Feeding; 8. Clinical Issues; 8.1. General Approach When Capacity Is Lost; 8.2. Background Issues; 8.3. Advance Care Planning; 8.4. Practical Aspects of Stopping Eating and Drinking by Advance Directive (SED by AD) and Comfort Feeding Only (CFO); 8.5. Limits of Palliation with Comfort Feeding Only (CFO); 8.6. Advantages of SED by AD; 8.7. Disadvantages of SED by AD; 8.8. Return to the Cases ; 9. Ethical Issues; 9.1 Introduction; 9.2 Change of Mind; 9.3 Is Feeding Fundamentally Different?; 9.4 Burdens of Survival on Family and Family Caregivers; 9.5 Caregiver and Proxy Distress; 9.6 The Odds of Implementation and the Attraction of Preemptive Measures; 9.7 Comparison with Comfort Feeding Only; 9.8 Conclusions; 9.9 Ethical Issues Review of Initial Cases; 10. Legal Issues; 10.1 Introduction; 10.2 There Is Little On-Point Precedent; 10.3 Draft the Advance Directive Carefully; 10.4 Non-Statutory Advance Directives Potentially Allow SED by AD; 10.5 Some Advance Directive Statutes Permit SED by AD; 10.6 Many Advance Directive Statutes Require Triggering Conditions; 10.7 Circumventing Home State Law with Reciprocity Rules; 10.8 Inadvertent Revocations and Vetoes; 10.9 Ulysses Clauses May Solve the Incapacitated Revocation Problem; 10.10 Appointed Health Care Agents; 10.11 Default Surrogates and Guardians; 10.12 Conscience Based Objection; 10.13 Conclusion; 10.14 Return to the Cases; 11. Institutional Issues; 11.1. Introduction; 11.2. Dementia Worry Is Common in Older Adults; 11.3. Challenges of SED by AD in Advanced Dementia Are Most Apt to Manifest in Institutional LTC Settings; 11.4. Resistance to Implementation of Dementia Directives Limiting Oral Nutrition and Hydration in LTC Settings; 11.5. Ethical Rationale for Dementia Directives Limiting Oral Nutrition and Hydration in LTC Settings; 11.6. Conclusion-ADs for SED in Institutional LTC Settings; 11.7. Case Comments from an Institutional Perspective; 12. Best Practices, Enduring Challenges, and Opportunities for SED by AD; 12.1 Best Practices; 12.2 Enduring Challenges; 12.3 Opportunities; Appendices; A. Recommended Elements of an Advance Directive for Stopping Eating and Drinking (AD for SED); B. Sample Advance Directives for SED; C. Cause of Death on Death Certificates with VSED or SED by AD; D. Position Statements and Clinical Guidance; E. Personal Narratives; F. Glossary; Index;
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