“A woman in her late 70s has been using a feeding tube successfully for the past year after a stroke. Her family noticed a decline in her cognitive abilities, and the patient was diagnosed with dementia. Her family is worried about long-term care but is willing to do what the doctor says regarding the feeding tube. … Is it ethical to keep this patient on a feeding tube?”
LTC Comment (from Stephen A. Moses, President, Center for Long-Term Care Reform):
This column lets you vote on ethical questions and later reports the results. Interesting idea. My observation on this particular question: who is paying? Medicaid probably. How much more would the family worry about LTC if they were paying? If families had to pay in these situations, instead of Medicaid, how many more people would plan ahead for LTC and purchase private insurance? What if catastrophic LTC costs really did fall on families? Don’t these questions trump the financially oblivious purely “ethical” question?