Research

Doctor’s specialty predicts feeding tube use

Feeding tube: Who makes the decision?

Many physicians and organizations that provide palliative care advise feeding frail, terminal patients by hand. The chances of a such a patient receiving a feeding tube increase when decisions are made by medical subspecialists. Credit: Mike Cohea/Brown University

A new study shows that when elderly patients with advanced dementia are hospitalized, the specialties of the doctors at their bedside have a lot to do with whether the patient will end up with a gastric feeding tube – a practice that some medical organizations recommend against for frail, terminal patients.