Research Article

Patients in the persistent vegetative state: problems in their long term management.

BMJ 1993; 306 doi: (Published 12 June 1993) Cite this as: BMJ 1993;306:1600
  1. K Andrews
  1. Royal Hospital and Home, Putney, London.


    Physicians responsible for the long term management of patients in the persistent vegetative state face several problems. These include deciding whether tube feeding is treatment or nutritional care, whether withdrawal of tube feeding is an appropriate form of management, what clinical advantage there is in active treatment; at what level of awareness can a patient be said to have a quality of life; and who should determine a patient's right to die. These problems are determined more by social, legal, emotional, cultural, religious, and economic forces than by clinical facts.