Skip to comments.Schiavo Videotape Misleading, Experts Say
Posted on 03/23/2005 2:19:08 PM PST by ambrose
Schiavo Videotape Misleading, Experts Say
Wed Mar 23, 2005 10:06 PM GMT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The videotape that runs endlessly on television stations around the world shows an apparently smiling Terri Schiavo being caressed by her mother's loving hand.
She seems to look deeply, even lovingly, into the off-camera eyes of her mother.
Schiavo's parents and their supporters, including doctors in Congress, have used the tape as evidence the 41-year-old brain-damaged woman is at least occasionally aware of her surroundings and might even be revived from her condition.
They are fighting to get her feeding tube reinserted against the wishes of her husband and legal guardian who says Schiavo would not want to be kept alive in that condition.
But many experts agree the tape is a cruelly misleading trick of biology.
"Pictures do lie," said Dr. Lawrence Schneiderman, a physician and bioethicist at the University of California, San Diego.
"Every time they have done a videotaped neurological examination, the courts have reviewed them and said, 'Yes this woman is unconscious.' Those movements of her eyeballs are reflexive and have nothing to do with recognition."
Studies of people whose cerebral cortices are damaged in the way Schiavo's is show that their eyes will respond to stimuli such as movement or a human face, but there is no way for them to be conscious of what they are seeing.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has been part of the fight to prolong Schiavo's life, said on Wednesday a review of Schiavo's medical records by a neurologist for Florida's Adult Protective Services indicated she may have been misdiagnosed and was more likely in a state of minimal consciousness rather than in a persistent vegetative state.
Such a condition, in which a patient slips in and out of consciousness, was sometimes mistaken for a persistent vegetative state, said Dr. Joseph Fins of New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. But Schiavo was not in that state, Fins 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.
It is almost certain that when someone suffers brain damage from a lack of oxygen, they are permanently vegetative, Fins said. Schiavo's brain was starved of oxygen after her heart stopped 15 years ago and most doctors who have examined her say there is no chance of recovery.
Dr. Ronald Cranford, a neurologist and bioethicist at the University of Minnesota Medical School, said reflexes can fool nonspecialists.
"To the families and loved ones, and to inexperienced health care professionals, PVS (permanent vegetative state) patients often look fairly 'normal,"' Cranford said in a statement.
"Their eyes are open and moving about during the periods of wakefulness that alternate with periods of sleep; there may be spontaneous movements of the arms and legs, and at times these patients appear to smile, grimace, laugh, utter guttural sounds, groan and moan, and manifest other facial expressions and sounds that appear to reflect cognitive functions and emotions, especially in the eyes of the family."
Dr. Timothy Quill of the Center for Palliative Care and Clinical Ethics at the University of Rochester in New York, said reporting about the case had confused people.
"Distortion by interest groups, media hyperbole, and manipulative use of videotape have characterized this case and demonstrate what can happen when a patient becomes more a precedent-setting symbol than a unique human being," Quill wrote in a commentary published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Anybody who been around patients in a persistent vegetative state knows that it is an unnerving phenomenon because they are alternate between sleep and wakefulness but that have no ability to interact," Quill said in a telephone interview.
"It is difficult for families because it is very difficult to discern that."
I believe this article as much as I believe Der Sturmer, the official Nazi Party news publication.
WHICH "experts"? An article that isn't willing to quote real sources is pretty much bunk.
These people would have us ignore what our own eyes tell us, and what the family tells us.
I am glad Bush is taking her into protective custody. There are plenty of other so-called experts who say something different about Terri, including the one the Florida protective services people used from Mayo today.
When there is doubt like this, differing medical opinions, when the family is split like it is...you err on the side of life.
Bush understands this and is acting accordingly.
Cripes, I'm getting more and more %&#!ing confused with each new article.
It seems like everyone has a different idea of what PVS is and whether Terri Sciavo has it.
My current favorite was the "news" report yesterday that "experts" claim people starving to death experience euphoria.
One of these days I'm going to make a compilation of all the thoroughly ridiculous things that journalists allege "experts agree" on.
I saw a video where someone asked her to open her eyes and she opened them really wide. It wasn't a reflex. So what if her life is similar to that of a baby. That doesn't mean she should die.
whatever. she stays alive when fed, and that about settles it.
Exactly...and in such an environement what should we do? Kill her, or err on the side of life? The answer is obvious.
Gee, that sounds like reasonable doubt to me....
I won't believe it until I see it.
I don't believe what I see.
I believe what I want to believe.
What does it have to do with the courts siding with some appearent prick on hearsay testimony?
Is this article really trying to ellude to killing a person if they are in a PVS no matter what!?
Does anyone ever stop and ask these "experts" if they are pro-choice?
Because I'd bet most of them are. And therefore, their motives are suspect.
"It's just gas."
"I believe this article as much as I believe"
I'll add that they can look at you with intense glare as if they know you.
Then they'll give the same recognizing glare out into space.
The one's I've seen have more seeming eye recognition ability than Terri, less vocal sounds.
I don't know what her real medical condition is, and I accept the possibility the doctors on either side are correct. But the case still troubles me and I wouldn't remove the tube at this point due to all the familiar facts - differences in medical opinions and observations, the husband's estrangement, and teh parents' desire to provide additional care.
I pointed to a tree, and asked my dog "what's that?" He said "bark!"