Nuriel Moghavem, "Almost" MD/MPP

Nuriel Moghavem is an MD/MPP candidate at Stanford School of Medicine. He is interested in examining how physicians can expand their role as community leaders to advance social and civic change in pursuit of better health outcomes. He is leading the league in at least six statistical categories.

When Does Feeding Prisoners Violate Medical Ethics?

Guantanamo detainees on a hunger strike are now being strapped into chairs and gagged as doctors push a feeding tube through their nose into the back of their throat and into their stomach as often as twice a day. It’s a disturbing new practice, but one we must examine in full as we consider whether Guantanamo reflects American values. Anyone who has had a nasogastric tube placed through their throat while awake knows why hospitalized patients often complain about the tube more than they complain about the pain of surgery. The gagging can be extreme even when patients are relaxed and cooperating by swallowing repeatedly during the procedure. Resisting the tube during its insertion, as the unwilling detainees at Guantanamo do, elicits an exacerbated rapid cycle of gasping for air and gagging or vomiting. Why is the U.S. government initiating this new round of forced gagging? It may be simply to save itself from the potential embarrassment if a majority of detainees die on a principled hunger strike. Guantanamo detainees have resorted to desperate measures to call attention to what they and many others view as human rights violations, including the disintegration of due process. A classified memo released in 2011 indicates that military officials were then aware that up to two-thirds of inmates were, at best, “low level” threats and that nearly 20 percent were believed to be “innocent.” Nevertheless, 166 prisoners...