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Report No. 196

The Diagnosis

2. The Medical Ethics Committee of the British Medical Association issued guidelines on treatment decisions for patients in persistent vegetative state in July 1993. According to the BMA, current methods of diagnosing PVS cannot be regarded as infallible. Such a diagnosis should not be considered confirmed until the patient has been insentient for at least 12 months.

Before then, as soon as the patient's condition has stabilized, rehabilitative measures such as coma arousal programmes should be instituted (see Airedale NHS Trust v. Bland (1993) 1 All ER 821 at 872, (1993) AC 789 at 871 per Lord Goff). For a discussion of the diagnosis of PVS and of other conditions with which it is sometimes confused, see App 4 (and paras 156-162, 251-258) of the Report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics (HL Paper (1993-94) 21-I).

Medical Treatment to Terminally Ill Patients (Protection of Patients and Medical Practitioners) Back

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