Force-feeding the dying is gradually becoming the medical standard in Germany. The presidents of the German Medical Association, Jorg-Dietrich Hoppe, and the German Caritas Association, Peter Neher, call for a rethink on this ie in an article in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" newspaper.
According to the report, a high number of dementia patients in nursing homes in particular are artificially fed through stomach tubes, so-called peg probes. About 140.000 of these probes are inserted every year in Germany, two-thirds of them in nursing homes. About one in two of these tube users is said to have dementia. Hoppe said to it, a stomach tube can be very stressful for dying people. The doctor is obliged to help the dying in such a way that they can leave life under humane conditions. "Assistance consists of palliative care and thus also assistance and care for basic care. This does not always include feeding and hydration through a stomach tube, as they can be a heavy burden for the dying," emphasized the president of the medical association. Neher demanded that peg probes should only be inserted if there are medical reasons and there is no other way to ensure the nutrition of a person. The executive director of the German Hospice Foundation, Eugen Brysch, said, "We experience in practice every day that the people who come to us for advice categorically reject artificial nutrition. Behind this is the fear of vegetating for years, of a life without quality of life, maintained only by the feeding tube."This fear must be countered. Unfortunately the drafts for a patient order law discussed in the Bundestag would offer no solution.
Controversial for a long time In the debate over euthanasia and assisted dying in Germany, ending artificial feeding has long been controversial. In the medical, legal and theological literature, the withholding of solid food or liquid has been the subject of heated debate since the 1980s. While one side equates such measures with the termination of other medical treatments, the other side strictly rejects the termination of artificial nutrition as letting the patient starve and die of thirst. The guidelines of the German Medical Association formulate a middle position: according to them, the situation of each patient must be carefully considered and more weight must also be given to the will of the patient. In the context of such an estimation the feeling of hunger or thirst is to be satisfied with the patients in any case.