Frontline Gastroenterol 1:7-12 doi:10.1136/fg.2009.000240
  • Patient experience

Ethical issues in nutrition support: a view from the coalface

  1. Nicola J Simmonds
  1. Correspondence to Dr N J Simmonds, Luton and Dunstable Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust, Lewsey Road, Luton LU4 0DZ, UK; nicola.simmonds{at}


Artificial nutrition and hydration continue to stimulate debate among physicians and in the wider world. This review aims to give those involved in providing nutrition support the necessary tools to be confident in making decisions in individual cases. It examines basic ethical principles and suggests a structured approach to ensure all the relevant factors are considered in making decisions. The current legal context and in particular the provisions of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 relating to nutrition support are discussed. The review concludes by applying the ethical approach suggested to some clinical examples, demonstrating the decision making process.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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