Neurologists: Terri Schiavo Not in Persistent Vegetative State

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 23, 2005

Washington, DC ( -- As Florida officials weigh whether or not to take Terri Schiavo into custody to investigate abuse and neglect allegations against her estranged husband, two leading nuerologists say Terri is not in a persistent vegetative state.

Dr. Joseph Fins of New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center reviewed Schiavo's medical records for the Florida Department of Children and Familes.

Dr. Fins indicated Terri's condition may have been misdiagnosed and that she was more likely in a state of minimal consciousness rather than a PVS patient as courts and many media outlets have alleged.

Such a minimally conscious condition is sometimes mistaken for a persistent vegetative state, Fins explained. However, Terri Schiavo is not PVS, he said.

"I think now it can be argued that with the advent of minimally conscious state (as a diagnosis), that permanent vegetative state as a diagnosis becomes much more certain," Fins said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Dr. William Cheshire of the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, also believed Terri is minimally conscious rather than a PVS patient.

In addition to reviewing Terri's medical records, Fins watched videotape footage of her and observed her at her hospice, although he was not permitted by Michael Schiavo to examine her.

In a press conference about their analysis, Florida Governor Jeb Bush said the information lent credence to actions to take Terri in protective custody.

"This new information raises serious concerns and warrants immediate action," Bush said.

Florida officials have filed a petition with a state court seeking to take Terri into custody and the Florida DCF may do that with or without the court's permission.

Dr. David Stevens, the president of the Christian Medical Association said that he agreed with the nuerologists' assessment.

Saying he also disagreed with the PVS diagnosis, Stevens said PVS is a "pejorative because it labels a person as being a vegetable -- taking away their humanity."

"It is also impossible to establish this diagnosis," Dr. Stevens explained. "Some patients who have come out of PVS have stated that their mind was in a prison but they knew what was going on around them."

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