Intended for healthcare professionals


Human Rights Act does not affect the law on PVS

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 14 October 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:916

Re: Permanent vegetative state and persistent vegetative state are not interchangeable terms

Dr. Laureys' warning about the easy substitution of the word
"permanent" for the more accurate "persistent" in de-coding "PVS" should
be heeded. The transition smacks of weasel words liable to manipulate
thought - as was the case with the use of "brain death" to describe a pre-
mortal syndrome many years ago. As he says, the clinical use of
"permanent" (merely) implies the prediction that the patient will not
recover. That prognosis, expertly attached, may be more reliable than most
prognoses given in good faith in everyday medical practice. But the only
certain permanent state is death.

David W.Evans,MD,FRCP

27 Gough Way,

Competing interests: No competing interests

18 October 2000
David W Evans
Retired cardiologist