Force Feeding Anorexic Patients Essay

1695 words - 7 pages

Force Feeding Anorexic Patients: Is This Practice Doing More Harm Than Good?
One of my high school best friends was diagnosed with anorexia my junior year of high school. Her condition was not severe, but still very serious because it led her to attempt to kill herself. After coming back to school from being in a mental health institution, she had gained weight from being forced to eat and was more than ever determined to lose the weight that she had gained. Clearly, being forced to eat made her condition worse. Patients with anorexia nervosa who are alarmingly thin, around 15% or so below their expected body weight, are sometimes force fed, more often than not through a tube inserted through their nose. This has raised many questions about if the practice ethical, safe, and the right thing to do. Over the course of the semester, I will explore and examine the issues with forced feeding and argue that forced feeding actually does more harm and the decision should be left up to the patient, their family or a court appointed guardian with the power to make healthcare decisions. As a social work major and someone who has seen what can happen as a result of force feeding anorexic patients, I have a strong interest in this issue because as a social work major, I have a particular interest in working with mental illness patients and this issue not only affects patients suffering from anorexia, but the medical and mental health professionals trying to help them. This topic is important because there are high stakes for the patients and they need effective treatment to recover and be healthy.
Once I discovered my friend’s situation, I read online articles about other cases and discovered that it was more common than I thought. Furthermore, the debate and controversy has never been so extensive and immense. Treatment often includes psychotherapy, family therapy, and medication, however, no one can agree on an answer of whether or not forced feeding should be a part of treatment. Often when these issues arise, they are sent to court for a judge to decide because what the family/patient want clashes with the patients’ doctors and it must be sorted out. Judges do realize what is at stake for these patients, but there are still varying opinions: some favor forced feeding because it keeps the patient alive while some are opposed to it because it takes away their dignity and right to refuse lifesaving medical treatment. Furthermore, there are different types of forced feedings. The most common type is the patient sits at a table and they must clean their plate before they are allowed to leave. Once they are done, there is a resting period wear patients are not left alone and cannot exercise. The other type is the type where the nutritious substance is sent through a feeding tube inserted through the nose to the stomach. I acquired my information from online peer reviewed journals like PubMed and articles from CNN and Huffington Post. The peer reviewed...

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