As The Jahi McMath Deadline Looms

As the deadline approaches for young Jahi McMath, her family has been receiving help through the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/01/02/family-california-girl-declared-brain-dead-gets-help-from-terry-schiavo-family/

The above link provides a 6-minute news clip in which former prosecutor, Dan Schorr, and criminal defense attorney, Dwane Cates, appeared as guest commentators.

I remember the years-long legal battle surrounding Terri Schiavo who collapsed in 1990 and suffered brain damage and never came out of her persistent vegetative state (PVS).

Although there are similarities between Jahi McMath and Terri Schiavo, their post-traumatic medical injuries and medical conditions were different.

Terri Schiavo’s ordeal lasted from February 25, 1990 until March 31, 2005 when she expired following the removal of her feeding tube on March 18. See timeline:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terri_Schiavo_timeline

Terri Schiavo’s case was heard more than twenty times in Florida courts:

http://www.nndb.com/people/435/000026357/

For a detailed, interesting read on Terri Schiavo, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terri_Schiavo_case

I was struck by the following passage:

The motion was accompanied by thirty-three affidavits from doctors in several specialties, speech-language pathologists and therapists, and a few neuropsychologists, all urging that new tests be undertaken.

I wonder what kind of neuropsychological evaluation could have been performed on a person in PVS for so many years. An MMSE? Glasgow Coma Scale?

The MMSE is a brief questionnaire used to screen for cognitive impairment. See:

http://www.heartinstitutehd.com/Misc/Forms/MMSE.1276128605.pdf

Terri Schiavo, unresponsive due to PVS, would have obtained a score of 0 (score <24 is abnormal).

The Glasgow Coma Scale provides a score in the range 3-15 where 8 or less is indicative of severe brain injury. See the following educational 7-minute video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FihnmEx6Rqk

I suspect Terri Schiavo’s GCS score would have been 3, unless there was some responsiveness to pain stimuli.

Another renowned case that I recall was Karen Ann Quinlan:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Ann_Quinlan

The ensuing legal battles set significant precedents.

 

Roy

 

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