Saying Patients are PVS Allows Courts to Starve Them to Death, What if the Diagnosis is Wrong?

National   |   Bobby Schindler   |   Apr 21, 2014   |   12:50PM   |   Washington, DC

I have written time and time again about the dangerous and dehumanizing persistent vegetative state (PVS) diagnosis. Actually, we saw in my family’s battle to save my sister, Terri Schiavo, from death by dehydration, that a tremendous amount of debate raged over whether or not she was in this condition.

terrischiavo2In fact, this diagnosis is what allowed the court to order the removal of Terri’s food and water. Yet despite continuing research validating that the PVS diagnosis is growing in its inaccuracy, the medical community uses this diagnosis to end countless lives of our medically vulnerable patients who are allegedly in this condition.

This latest finding is one of a continuous stream of reports that have been issued on the inaccuracy of the PVS diagnosis. From the Report, Brain Scans Show Vegetative Patients May Actually Recover:

The Journal’s report, released on Feb. 3, revealed that some patients who were believed to be in a PVS were actually able to understand and communicate. Through the use of functional magnetic resonance scanning (fMRI), researchers in the United Kingdom estimated that a percentage of those patients suffering from profound brain injuries possessed the capacity to comprehend and communicate in limited ways.

Indeed, every time these studies are published we should move to abolish the PVS diagnosis, in particularly, using it as a reason to kill. Sadly, however, despite these imaging studies and what they reveal about the human brain, the vast majority of the medical community sees nothing improper about using such an unscientific diagnosis for, what usually turns out to be, reasons almost never in the best interest of the patients.

Furthermore, not only can the PVS diagnosis be used as an actual death sentence for a patient, but as a death sentence figuratively speaking, as well. And it seems both are supported under the pretext to save health care costs. You see, the PVS can also be used to cut off funds for a person in need of vital rehabilitation. Because once insurance providers receive the PVS diagnosis in regards to the patient’s condition, no longer are they willing to pay for any rehabilitative services.

Consequently, with no way to afford rehabilitation, families are left to either care for their loved ones at home, or place them in a nursing home. The patients, who could benefit from such services, are basically warehoused and abandoned by a system, ironically, which if it permitted the rehabilitative services to continue, could prove to save costs over the life span of the patients.

Predictably, our mainstream media supports this “quality-of-life” standard agenda and the many years and millions of dollars that have been invested in manipulating our culture to accept killing our most vulnerable persons.

It is incumbent upon all of us, but physicians in particular, to ensure that the lives of vulnerable people are not needlessly ended by flawed diagnostic practices, careless legislation, or the idea that a person with a disability must prove themselves worthy of life’s most ordinary and basic needs: food and water.