According to a recent report from the Royal College of Physicians, tube-feeding may not be the most beneficial option for feeding terminally ill patients.

The report, which is entitled ‘Oral feeding difficulties and dilemmas: A guide to practical care, particularly towards the end of life,’ was issued by the Royal College of Physicians and the British Society of Gastroenterology in early January in order to address the appropriateness of feeding tubes for patients approaching the end of life. According to the report, hand feeding, modified if necessary, should be the primary aim of a nutrition strategy for terminally ill patients. In addition, the report states that even in situations where tube feeding is necessary, oral intake should be additional whenever possible. The report also makes several other recommendations, including the recommendation that a risk management approach be used to evaluate all patients deemed to have “unsafe swallow.” Additionally, the authors of the report recommend that there be a clear agreement between the parties involved regarding the aims of any nutritional regimen.

According to the Royal Academy of Physicians, the report was prepared to respond to the lack of consensus among physicians and others regarding the appropriateness of artificial nutrition and hydration in certain situations.

Laura Troshynski