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US bishops' end-of-life directives could cause conflicts at hospitals

Catholic World News - March 02, 2010

Health-care directives released by the US Catholic bishops last November are likely to give rise to conflicts at American hospitals in end-of-life cases, the Kaiser Health News reports. The bishops' document reminds health-care providers of their "obligation to provide patients with food and water, including medically assisted nutrition and hydration for those who cannot take food orally.” ?However, the Kaiser report notes, some patients may have written advance directives instructing the hospitals not to insert a feeding tube if they are unconscious and their condition is irreversible. Such directives would be legal, but under normal circumstances Catholic hospitals could not cooperate, explained a spokesman for the US bishops.

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