Persistent Vegetative State

Publication Title: 
NeuroRehabilitation

A wide range of medical, legal and ethical opinion regarding withholding or withdrawing medically assisted nutrition and hydration (ANH) from vegetative state (VS) and persistent vegetative state patients (PVS) has been presented in professional journals over the past twenty years. This article concerns the moral aspects of this debate as it has developed within the Catholic Church, especially in the United States.

Author(s): 
McMahon, Kevin T.
Publication Title: 
Issues in Law & Medicine

On March 20, 2004, Pope John Paul II issued a statement to the International Conference on "Life Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific and Ethical Dilemmas" on the provision of food and water to patients in a "vegetative state." The purpose of this allocution was to promote and protect the dignity of patients, even when they are in a seriously ill and disabled state. To promote the dignity of these patients, the Pope explicitly stated that "quality of life judgments" were not to be applied to the administration of nutrition and fluids.

Author(s): 
Barry, Robert
Publication Title: 
Christian Bioethics

This article discusses the unexpectedly firm stance professed by John Paul II on the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration to patients who are in a persistent vegetative state, and it implications on previously held standards of judging medical treatments. The traditional ordinary/extraordinary care distinction is assessed in light of complexities of the recent allocution as well as its impact on Catholic individuals and in Catholic health care facilities.

Author(s): 
Shannon, Thomas A.
Publication Title: 
Christian Bioethics

This essay reviews the Roman Catholic moral tradition surrounding treatments at the end of life together with the challenges presented to that tradition by the Texas Advance Directives Act. The impact on Catholic health care facilities and physicians, and the way in which the moral tradition should be applied under this statute, particularly with reference to the provision dealing with conflicts over end-of-life treatments, will be critically assessed.

Author(s): 
Zientek, David M.
Publication Title: 
HEC forum: an interdisciplinary journal on hospitals' ethical and legal issues

Roman Catholics have a long tradition of evaluating medical treatment at the end of life to determine if proposed interventions are proportionate and morally obligatory or disproportionate and morally optional. There has been significant debate within the Catholic community about whether artificially delivered nutrition and hydration can be appreciated as a medical intervention that may be optional in some situations, or if it should be treated as essentially obligatory in all circumstances.

Author(s): 
Zientek, David M.
Publication Title: 
Palliative & Supportive Care

This article examines narratives of grief and loss and how, under the best of circumstances, they may lead to transformation and growth, even contributing to the greater social good. Using psychodynamic and narrative theories, and examples drawn from mourners who have used their grief in powerful and political ways, I make the case that even grief that has been highly appropriated and contested, as in the case of Terri Schiavo, may ultimately serve important functions. Grief may mobilize mourners by helping them to turn passivity into activity.

Author(s): 
Berzoff, Joan
Publication Title: 
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine

The integrative approach to vegetative state remains a challenge. In this article we have presented the evidence for conventional and alternative therapies that can be applied to this condition. Some are intended to support the patient and prevent complications; others enhance the ability of relatives to interact with their loved ones; while others are intended to shorten the vegetative state period. The approaches we reviewed were based on availability of data on MEDLINE and/or their potential to broaden our conceptual approach to vegetative state.

Author(s): 
Schiff, Elad
Kim, Yoon-Hang
Maizes, Victoria
Publication Title: 
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine

The integrative approach to vegetative state remains a challenge. In this article we have presented the evidence for conventional and alternative therapies that can be applied to this condition. Some are intended to support the patient and prevent complications; others enhance the ability of relatives to interact with their loved ones; while others are intended to shorten the vegetative state period. The approaches we reviewed were based on availability of data on MEDLINE and/or their potential to broaden our conceptual approach to vegetative state.

Author(s): 
Schiff, Elad
Kim, Yoon-Hang
Maizes, Victoria
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