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Enfermería Global

On-line version ISSN 1695-6141


SOTO NUNEZ, Claudia; RUBIO ACUNA, Miriam  and  CORDOVA HERRERA, Mª Fernanda. Ethical dylemas regarding the care of people in vegetative state. Enferm. glob. [online]. 2013, vol.12, n.29, pp.297-306. ISSN 1695-6141.

Background: The vegetative state (EV) corresponds to a clinical diagnosis in which people spontaneously maintain vital functions, the sleep-wake rhythm but lack voluntary activity. The purpose of this article is to present an ethical dilemma to maintain, or not, the hydration and nutrition of people in EV, which are faced with family and team of health during the care of these patients. Methods: We conducted a search in the data base available in the system of libraries of the Pontifical University Catholic of Chile, Scielo and Elsevier, between the months of April and May 2012. Results: They refer to some representative cases described in the sources, like Terry Schiavo, Nancy Cruzat and Anthony Bland, which were resolved in courts. The main arguments are focused to determine if food and hydration correspond to a disproportionate treatment and the importance of the advance directives or living will. They then discuss the concepts of human dignity, personhood and dignified death around the ethical dilemma. Conclusions: From the legal approach and considering ethical issues that emerge in the environment of the care of these patients, it can be concluded that it is a complex dilemma and it is necessary to analyze each case in particular and from various perspectives to deliver the best care to people in EV and their families, in order to have an ethical thereon stance.

Keywords : vegetative state; ethical dilemmas; hydration; nutrition.

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