Letters Response

Panorama responds to editorial on fMRI for vegetative and minimally conscious states

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8702 (Published 08 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:e8702
  1. Fergus Walsh, medical correspondent1,
  2. Frank Simmonds, deputy editor, Panorama1,
  3. G Bryan Young, professor, Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences2,
  4. Adrian M Owen, Canada excellence research chair in cognitive neuroscience and imaging2
  1. 1BBC, Broadcasting House, London W1A 1AA, UK
  2. 2University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada
  1. fergus.walsh{at}bbc.co.uk

Turner-Stokes and colleagues’ editorial suggests that the Panorama special, The Mind Reader: Unlocking My Voice, did not “clearly distinguish” between patients who live in a vegetative state and those in a minimally conscious state.1 However, the script contained several explanations of these conditions; for example, when referring to one patient undergoing assessment: “Staff here will try to assess whether he is minimally conscious with fragments of understanding or vegetative—with no awareness at all.”

Just by viewing this one hour documentary the authors felt able to discern that both the Canadian patients “said to be in a vegetative state” …

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