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By Luke Gormally

This considerate and compassionate account addresses a few of the tricky moral and clinical concerns raised within the provision of future health deal with the established aged sufferer. Care of the established aged is topic to conflicting priorities bobbing up from the calls for of sufferers, their kin, the reasonable allocation of clinical and monetary assets, and the clinical ethos to delay existence. A distinct group of members, chosen from the fields of medication, philosophy, ethics, and legislations, speak about and seriously assessment those concerns. This quantity will offer a spotlight for additional debate and curiosity during this vital topic.

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86-120. On this I am indebted to Grisez, op. , 33-4.

The issue then arises whether to provide fluid and possibly food by an artificial means. Except in situations where recovery of swallowing ability seems possible, I have a blanket policy that no artificial means should be attempted. It seems reasonable to assume that if a patient is rejecting food and drink, they are not experiencing hunger or thirst. Of course, I do not know for sure. At such times, the mouth is kept clean and moist for patient comfort and death will supervene, usually in a few days to a week or two.

Sometimes, particularly in exigent circumstances, it is permissible to abandon people. But it seems that outside such conditions, as exist perhaps in crisis situations or, more routinely, in the lives of hunter-gatherer peoples living in hostile environments, abandonment cannot be justified. The idea that health care professionals should always care for their patients, even when curing them is impossible, is an application of a general moral truth about human relationships. We should not turn our backs on fellow humans in need, even when we morally or physically cannot do much to help them.

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