Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Great piece on Terri Schiavo

The National Review has an excellent article by Rev. Robert Johansen on Terri Schiavo. It contain facts about the Schiavo case that I'd never heard. Johansen has spent the last ten days talking to neurologists about Terri's condition and more than 30 that he has spoken are willing to testify that Terri needs to be re-evaluated.

He talks about the neglect of Terri, how's she's never been properly diagnosed, how she's never given a MRI, and how claims that a CT scan could show that Terri's cerebral cortex has been "liquified" are poppycock.

Johansen also explains how the main expert witness for Michael Schiavo's side, Ronald Cranford, is a leading proponent of physician-assisted suicide and has a "knack" for finding that people are in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) when others doctors cannot come to same conclusion.

There are so many good parts, take the time to read it all, but here was a part I found especially notable.

A 1996 British Medical Journal study, conducted at England's Royal Hospital for Neurodisability, concluded that there was a 43-percent error rate in the diagnosis of PVS. Inadequate time spent by specialists evaluating patients was listed as a contributing factor for the high incidence of errors.

So, did Dr. Cranford, or any of the doctors testifying for Michael Schiavo, spend months evaluating Terri? No. To be fair, none of the doctors appearing for the Schindlers spent months with Terri either. But it is hardly coincidental that the doctors who spent the most time with Terri came to the conclusion that she is not PVS. The doctors brought in by the Schindlers spent approximately 14 hours examining Terri over more than two weeks; their conclusion was that Terri is not PVS, and that she may benefit from therapy.

In marked contrast, Dr. Cranford examined Terri on one occasion, for approximately 45 minutes. Another doctor for Michael Schiavo, Dr. Peter Bambikidis of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, examined Terri for about half an hour. When Dr. Bell learned of the cursory nature of these exams, he said: "You can't do this. To make a diagnosis of PVS based on one examination is fallacious." In Cranford's examination, described by one witness as "brutal," he discounted evidence under his own eyes of Terri's responsiveness. At one point, Dr. Cranford struck Terri very hard on the forehead between her eyes. Terri recoiled and moaned, seemingly in pain. In his court testimony, Cranford dismissed the reaction and moan as a "reflex."

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