Article Text

Parenteral nutrition: ethical and legal considerations
  1. G M Sayers1,2,
  2. D A J Lloyd3,
  3. S M Gabe2,3
  1. 1Department of General and Geriatric Medicine, Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, UK
  2. 2Imperial College School of Medicine, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Gastroenterology, St Mark’s Hospital, Harrow, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr S M Gabe
 Department of Gastroenterology, St Mark’s Hospital, Watford Road, Harrow HA1 3UJ, UK; s.gabe{at}


Parenteral nutrition is an expensive therapeutic modality that is used to treat patients with intestinal failure. The benefit it offers in terms of life prolongation needs to be weighed against its risks and burdens. Through the use of descriptive clinical vignettes, this article illustrates the ethical and legal principles that underpin decisions to administer and, more importantly, to withhold or withdraw parenteral nutrition.

  • parenteral nutrition
  • decision making
  • ethics
  • law

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  • Funding: none.

  • Competing interests: none declared.

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