Medicine And The Media

Looking living death in the face

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 30 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1408
  1. Naomi Craft

    When the House of Lords ruled that Tony Bland should be allowed to die, most of us believed that he was practically dead already. Tony was a tragic victim of the Hillsborough disaster. He was in a persistent vegetative state (PVS), which meant that he seemed to be awake with his eyes open but had no level of awareness. The only reason he remained alive was because he was artificially fed. We were assured there could be no mistake about the diagnosis and no hope of recovery. This Monday's Horizon programme Living Death undermined those assurances, telling us that persistent vegetative state is an unreliable diagnosis. It claimed that some patients, far from being awake but unaware of their environment, may have been misdiagnosed and may be aware and thinking inside their paralysed bodies.

    There are estimated …

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