Texas This I Know...

Texas This I Know...
Texas Farm to Market Road

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Doctor Who Diagnosed Schiavo Was "105%" Sure But Got It Wrong For Other Patient

Here is something for all you Pull-The-Tube absolutists to think about. Remember, Terri Schiavo had not had tests, MRI, PET, CAT-scan, ANYTHING! since 1992.

(CNSNews.com) -- A neurologist hired by Michael Schiavo to confirm that his wife Terri was in a persistent vegetative state said he was "105 percent sure" of that diagnosis, but Dr. Ronald Cranford expressed similar certainty about a patient he examined in 1980 who later regained both consciousness and the ability to communicate.
Cranford expressed similar certainty about another patient he declared to be in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) in 1980, former Minneapolis Police Sgt. David Mack.

''Sergeant Mack will never regain cognitive, sapient functioning,'' Cranford said six months after Mack was shot..on Dec. 13, 1979. ''He will never be aware of his condition nor resume any degree of meaningful voluntary conscious interaction with his family or friends.''

Based on Cranford's unequivocal diagnosis of Mack, the officer's relatives removed him from a respirator in August 1980 ...

But Mack did not die.

On Oct. 22, 1981, 18 months after Cranford declared Mack's case hopeless, doctors at the advanced care facility where Mack was being treated noticed that he was awake. The Associated Press described Mack's recovery.

"A policeman considered 'vegetative' after being shot in the head in 1979 has come out of his coma and, although doctors caution he may never recover fully, he is spelling out some of his desires: 'TALK. WALK. SKI. DOG,'" ...

Cranford insisted at the time that his initial diagnosis was correct.
In an interview last week with Cybercast News Service, Cranford acknowledged a "mistake," but maintained that his original assessment of Mack was accurate.

"At the time I said that, he was in a vegetative state," Cranford said. "But, I did make that misstatement about Sgt. Mack and I was wrong and I did make a mistake in that case."

Cranford argued that Mack's case is different from Terri Schiavo's because a CAT scan of Mack's brain showed no atrophy, while Schiavo's CAT scan showed severe deterioration.
Cranford also told reporters in 1991 that he wanted to be known as "Doctor Humane Death." He has since publicly claimed to have facilitated the deaths of between 25 and 50 disabled patients by removing the feeding tubes that provided their nutrition and hydration.
Cybercast News Service found more than two dozen cases where published news reports document patients diagnosed as being in a persistent or permanent vegetative state, or coma "waking up," including:

--Recovery after three years - Marcello Manunza suffered a brain injury during a car crash in November 1987. In July 1990, relatives noticed that he was following them around the room with his eyes and appeared to be trying to read encouraging signs that had been placed in his nursing home room. Within days he was able to eat, control the movement of his limbs and speak;

--Recovery after seven years - Hawaii resident Peter Sana lapsed into a coma after contracting meningitis, an inflammation of the membrane that encloses the brain and spinal cord. He was in a Honolulu nursing home in September 2001 when he began responding to commands from nurses. Sana's father visited him every day during the seven years. His caregivers credit visits by family members with giving Sana the will to wake up;

--Recovery after eight years - The first thing Conley Holbrook said after rousing from a PVS in 1991 was "Momma." He then identified the two men who had beaten him unconscious with a log on Nov. 27, 1982. Holbrook awoke while he was hospitalized for pneumonia; and

-- Recovery after 18 years - In 1983, Patti White Bull of South Dakota was diagnosed as being in a coma or PVS due to complications from a Caesarean section. Two months later, her husband and other family members removed her from life support. On Christmas Day 1999, White Bull woke up and asked to see her children. A day later, she was walking around her nursing home room with assistance.

A 1996 study published in the British Medical Journal found that 43 percent of patients in the United Kingdom thought to be in a PVS had been misdiagnosed. Of the 40 patients whose cases were reviewed, 17 were later found to be "alert, aware and often able to express a simple wish."

A 1993 study of 49 patients found that 18 of them, or 37 percent, "were diagnosed inaccurately.
Stevens said this is all the evidence that should be needed to call for a higher standard when it comes to diagnosing a patient as being in a persistent or permanent vegetative state.
"Your intent is not to remove a burdensome therapy," Stevens concluded. "Your intent is to remove a burdensome patient."

Or in Michael Schiavo's case, using the patient to hurt those who he despised.


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