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Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED): A Viable, Lesser-Known Palliative Option of Last Resort Short

Voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED) has recently gotten attention as a viable “last resort” palliative option for patients who want to escape their current medical situation through a self-initiated death but might not qualify for a physician assisted death or might not want it even if they did qualify.

VSED is primarily under the patient's own control, and it requires a tremendous amount of discipline and persistence to successfully complete. We will explore the clinical, ethical, legal, moral, and cultural challenges and opportunities of this practice both in theoretical terms and then through 3 real clinical cases.


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The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) is the professional organization for physicians, nurses and other health care providers specializing in hospice and palliative care. Learn more.

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