Bioethics and the human right to adequate feeding during enteral nutritional therapy

Abstract This study aims to reflect, in the light of bioethics, about the incorporation of the concept of human right to adequate food in the scope of enteral nutritional therapy. This is a longitudinal study performed with patients being fed through enteral nutrition who were admitted to a Brazilian University hospital. The respect for this right was checked by the analysis of the adequacy of the diet offered to the patients. The results show that less than half the patients received adequate diet (quantity and quality), mainly due to disease and treatment factors (diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, gastric stasis, fasting for exams/procedures). However, it is observed that the limitation of financial resources and fragility in the organisation of services contribute to this reality. Enteral nutritional therapy has evolved in recent decades in relation to regulations and availability of products, but bioethical analysis shows that there are challenges to be faced in order to ensure that the right in question is also guaranteed in the clinical and therapeutic context.