Oregon removes feeding tube option from end-of-life medical directive form

Oregon’s end-of-life medical directive form, or POLST form, will no longer include the option of having a feeding tube.

Feeding tubes are surgically inserted through the abdomen wall and deliver food. Doctors say they work well for patients in a coma or living with a condition like Lou Gehrig’s disease.

But Dr. Susan Tolle with Oregon Health & Science University’s Center for Ethics In Health Care, said research shows the tubes can be harmful for people with dementia. They tend to increase discomfort and agitation, she says, and that can lead to the use of restraints and as a result, bedsores.

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