Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Holy Cow! Patients in PVS Awakened by Sleeping Pill

If actually true, this story, published by the usually reliable Guardian, is amazing: Three patients who were unconscious for years in diagnosed persistent vegetative states (PVS), awakened after being given a certain sleeping medication. They interacted with their environment. And then, after four hours, became unconscious again. The story says permanently unconscious, but I doubt that word applies any more.

This definitely needs to be researched and after proper vetting, put into appropriate clinical trials. It also illustrates that we really don't know what is going on inside the minds of people diagnosed as permanently unconscious. Moreover, if this is real--and it sure appears that it is--it should give us great pause before pulling the tube feeding of people diagnosed as PVS. The doctors involved also claimed that the drug could have wider application, hoping that "the drug could have uses in all kinds of brain damage, including Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's."


At May 23, 2006 , Blogger BAP said...

The BBC's reporting of this study is interesting in that it suggests the possibility that the diagnosis of PVS in some cases may need revision. An interviewee in the BBC report states that patients with true PVS "should not" respond to such treatment. Such obvious cases of response would imply that the original diagnosis of PVS may be in error or that the definition of PVS may only be a label for a range of unknown conditions. Either way, further studies may help us to realize that there may some wisdom in erring on the side of caution in treating (or not treating) PVS patients, given that it is not necessarily possible to know when or to what extent a patient will respond to treatment.

At May 23, 2006 , Blogger Wesley J. Smith said...

In the hard cases, indeed, give the benefit of doubt to life. Thanks for your contributions.

At May 27, 2006 , Blogger Laura(southernxyl) said...

"... the definition of PVS may only be a label for a range of unknown conditions."

That's my guess.


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