Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking

Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking Voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED) is a deliberate, self‐initiated attempt to hasten death in the setting of suffering refractory to optimal palliative interventions or prolonged dying that a person finds intolerable. Individuals who consider VSED tend to be older, have a serious but not always imminently terminal illness, place a high value on independence, and have significant illness burden. VSED can theoretically be performed independent of clinician assistance and therefore avoids many of the ethical and legal concerns associated with physician‐assisted dying or other palliative measures of last resort, However, VSED is an intense process fraught with new sources of somatic and emotional suffering for individuals and their caregivers, so VSED is best supervised by an experienced, well‐informed clinician who can provide appropriate pre‐intervention assessment, anticipatory guidance, medical treatment of symptoms, and emotional support. Before initiation of VSED, clinicians should carefully screen for inadequately treated psychiatric conditions, unaddressed symptoms, existential suffering, and evidence of coercion—consultation from palliative medicine, psychiatry, or ethics is often indicated. The most common symptoms encountered after starting VSED are extreme thirst, hunger, dysuria, progressive disability, delirium, and somnolence. Although physiologically similar to cessation of artificial nutrition and hydration, the onset and management of symptoms is often different. We propose an organized system for evaluating individual appropriateness for VSED, anticipatory guidance, and management of symptoms associated with VSED. A brief review of ethical and legal considerations follows. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of American Geriatrics Society Wiley

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Publisher
Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
Copyright
© 2018 American Geriatrics Society and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
ISSN
0002-8614
eISSN
1532-5415
D.O.I.
10.1111/jgs.15200
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED) is a deliberate, self‐initiated attempt to hasten death in the setting of suffering refractory to optimal palliative interventions or prolonged dying that a person finds intolerable. Individuals who consider VSED tend to be older, have a serious but not always imminently terminal illness, place a high value on independence, and have significant illness burden. VSED can theoretically be performed independent of clinician assistance and therefore avoids many of the ethical and legal concerns associated with physician‐assisted dying or other palliative measures of last resort, However, VSED is an intense process fraught with new sources of somatic and emotional suffering for individuals and their caregivers, so VSED is best supervised by an experienced, well‐informed clinician who can provide appropriate pre‐intervention assessment, anticipatory guidance, medical treatment of symptoms, and emotional support. Before initiation of VSED, clinicians should carefully screen for inadequately treated psychiatric conditions, unaddressed symptoms, existential suffering, and evidence of coercion—consultation from palliative medicine, psychiatry, or ethics is often indicated. The most common symptoms encountered after starting VSED are extreme thirst, hunger, dysuria, progressive disability, delirium, and somnolence. Although physiologically similar to cessation of artificial nutrition and hydration, the onset and management of symptoms is often different. We propose an organized system for evaluating individual appropriateness for VSED, anticipatory guidance, and management of symptoms associated with VSED. A brief review of ethical and legal considerations follows.

Journal

Journal of American Geriatrics SocietyWiley

Published: Jan 1, 2018

References

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