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Geriatrics. 1998 Sep;53 Suppl 1:S70-3.

The vegetative and minimally conscious states: ethical implications.

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Department of Neurology, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA.


Modern medical technology has created new syndromes of severe and permanent brain damage. In the first 25 years of the right-to-die debate, the permanent vegetative state has been the paradigmatic neurologic syndrome for decisions to discontinue treatment. In the near future, however, a far more problematic syndrome may be even more important in the right-to-die debate, the minimally conscious state. This paper presents a few of the medical and ethical similarities and differences between the permanent vegetative and minimally conscious states and discusses how value-laden these decisions may become in the future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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