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February 18, 2005

Disability activists get active

Press release from the disabled activists group Not Dead Yet:

Disability activists have called for a nationwide moratorium on the dehydration and starvation of people alleged to be in "persistent vegetative state." This would apply to individuals who do not have an advance directive or durable power of attorney.

The call for a moratorium is a reaction to the newly-published report indicating high levels of brain activity in people thought to be in "minimally conscious state (MCS)." The study, published in the February issue of Neurology, discovered evidence that these individuals may hear and understand much of what is going on around them, but are unable to respond.

The study drew a distinction between MCS and Persistent Vegetative State (PVS), but the distinction is not a reliable one. In a New York Times article, Dr. Joseph Fins mentioned research indicating a 30% misdiagnosis rate of PVS, indicating that nearly a third of persons diagnosed in PVS are actually in "minimally conscious state." Fins is chief of the medical ethics division of New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The abstract for the MCS report can be read here, the full text (in PDF) here. The text of the study on MCS/PVS misdiagnosis can be read here. It should load quickly because we know no Florida judges will ever bother reading them, leaving plenty of bandwidth for everyone else.

Posted by Jack Lewis at February 18, 2005 09:04 AM

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