Ethics roundtable debate: Withdrawal of tube feeding in a patient with persistent vegetative state where the patient's wishes are unclear and there is family dissension

Tom Buckley, Princess Margaret Hospital Hong Kong
David Crippen, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Anthony L. DeWitt, Bartimus
Malcolm Fisher, The University of Sydney
Antonios Liolios, Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc
Christine L. Scheetz, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics
Leslie M. Whetstine, Duquesne University


The decision to withdraw or withhold life supporting treatment in moribund patients is difficult under any circumstances. When the patient becomes incompetent to clarify their wishes regarding continued maintenance in long-term facilities, surrogates sometimes cannot agree, further clouding the issue. We examine a case where the State's interests come into play, forcing a controversial resolution.