Jan 16, 2012

Man Conscious During 23-Year Coma

This story illustrates an issue that healthcare providers need to consider. The man in this video was considered to be in a persistent vegetative state for 23 years. The entire time, it was assumed that he had no ability to understand what was going on around him or respond to his environment. His mother was convinced that he could understand what was happening around him. His doctors wrote her observations off as wishful thinking. But time vindicated her beliefs as further testing revealed that he was in fact able to understand perfectly what was happening around him.

As healthcare providers its easy to think we know better than the family or patient about what is going on with them. It is too easy to dismiss their observations and hopes as wishful thinking. And too often, they are the ones who are right. I would encourage you to always take the concerns and observations of patients and their loved ones into account when making medical decisions. This isn't to say that they must be in charge of clinical decision making, but rather that their input is considered in the process as one who spends more time with the patient than we do and it may provide valuable insights.

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