Defining a Vegetative State Term Paper by Carly Evans

An analysis of data on awareness in vegetative states and a look at accompanying medical and ethical issues.
# 150014 | 1,116 words | 5 sources | APA | 2012 | US
Published by on Jan 18, 2012 in Medical and Health (Medical Studies)

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This paper looks at the medical state known as a vegetative state, which can be defined as persistent or permanent and, in the past, has been defined as a state of consciousness with no awareness or ability to respond. The paper also looks at recent scientific studies, which have revealed that patients can, in fact, be aware or responsive within a vegetative state. Also examined is the debate this new evidence has initiated regarding the care, treatment and medical rights of such patients.

Medical Studies - Awareness in Vegetative State
Tools for Assessing Awareness
Rates of Misdiagnosis
Recovery from a PVS
Implications for Patients and the Medical Community

From the Paper:

"The recent increase in understanding of awareness in persistent vegetative states has created a quandry for many patients, families and their medical providers. Given that, the level of awareness in a PVS patient cannot be guaranteed or even exactly defined, many families of patients in a PVS are left unsure of how to act in terms of life care and long-term options. This was famously illustrated in the United States even before the recent studies that have proven awareness in PVS patients via the Schiavo case. Terri Schiavo was a young woman who, in 1990, suffered severe cardiac arrest at her home. In the aftermath, she was diagnosed as in a persistent vegetative state. Her husband, who had medical guardianship of her, wanted to terminate life care, stating that he did not believe that she was aware or conscious of her existence. Her parents, on the other hand, claimed that they believed her to be present, responsive and aware of her surroundings. The case was taken to court and went on for seven years before the husband's opinion was confirmed by the court. Terri Schiavo was removed from life support in March of 2005, 15 years after her initial injury. With the increased data in the days since the Schiavo case, debates over long-term care of PVS patients have become even more complicated. The ability to communicate with patients with a PVS has even opened areas of debate with regards to the issue of euthanasia. If, for example, a method was found whereby doctors could respond with a patient in a PVS, and the patient informed the doctors that he or she felt trapped and wished to terminate life support, the doctors involved would essentially be performing euthanasia. Some doctors, such as Dr. Jacob Appel of Mount Sinai Hospital see this as a positive development, which would allow doctors to more directly address a patient's needs."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Alleyne, R., & Beckford, M. (2010, February 3). Patients in 'vegetative' state can think and communicate. The Telegraph.
  • Andrews, K. (1996). Misdiagnosis of the vegetative state: retrospective study in a rehabilitation unit. BMJ, 313:13.
  • BBC News. (2006, September 7). Vegetative patient 'communicates'.
  • Cruse, D. (2011). Bedside detection of awareness in the vegetative state: a cohort study. The Lancet, Volume 378, Issue 9809 Pages 2088-2094.
  • Monti, M. (2010). Willful Modulation of Brain Activity in Disorders of Consciousness. The New England Journal of Medicine, 579-589.

Cite this Term Paper:

APA Format

Defining a Vegetative State (2012, January 18) Retrieved December 07, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Defining a Vegetative State" 18 January 2012. Web. 07 December. 2021. <>