Curing a Persistant Vegetative State with a Pill?

24 May

Some new research suggests that a certain type of sleeping pill can temporarily "reverse" a persistent vegetative state.  While this sounds like a miracle advance in medicine, there are some serious problems with this study.  First, the treatment has only been used on three patients, which always makes me wonder about the validity of the research itself.  Second, the definition of a PVS is that they cannot be revived, so a patient whose vegetative state is reversed could not have PVS. This research raises interesting questions about the correct diagnosis of PVS, and this "miracle" treatment could find use in diagnosing PVS. 

On a related note, I wonder what affect this research will have on situations like that of Terri Schiavo?  Will this be taken as "proof" that PVS can be reversed (even though it cannot be, medically speaking) or if the research proves to be valid will it be used correctly as a diagnostic tool to rule out PVS in borderline cases?

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