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The Vegetative State

The Vegetative State
Medical Facts, Ethical and Legal Dilemmas


  • Date Published: February 2002
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521441582

£ 76.99

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About the Authors
  • The strange and harrowing sight of a person being awake but unaware with no evidence of a working mind - the characteristics of the vegetative state - provokes intense debate and raises profound questions for health professionals, ethicists, philosophers and lawyers. This unique account by an unrivalled expert in the field, who himself collaborated in coining the term 'persistent vegetative state', surveys the medical, ethical and legal issues that surround this controversial topic. The medical definition and criteria for diagnosis are discussed, as are its frequency and causes, and possible outcomes. Ethical arguments discussed include the conflict between sanctity of life and respect for the autonomy and best interests of the victim, and between killing and letting die. Legal issues are explored with details of landmark court cases from the USA, Britain and elsewhere. This well-informed and carefully constructed account will be a benchmark for medical specialists, ethicists, lawyers and philosophers.

    • The author has been one of the pioneers in defining this condition and in coining the term 'persistent vegetative state'
    • A multi-faceted interdisciplinary account that spans medical, ethical and legal issues
    • Reviews landmark court cases from around the world
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book should be mandatory in every ITU, HDU and every Trust Ethics Committee. Every Medical or Clinical Director or Head of Service, or Nursing Director must read this. Others interested in this issue or in law or ethics will learn much from the style, references and practical application of the law, ethics and philosophy applied to medical care. The knowledge which Jennett distils applies to the serious issues of life and death.'

    'This is a unique book. the author is an international authority on the persistent vegetative state. Not only does he write clearly and authoritatively, but with a deep sense of the historical foundations of this controversial entity that creates significant medical, ethical, and legal challenges.' Doody's Notes

    'This book is quite deceptive. It is a paperback of some 228 pages. But within this relatively short work is a lifetime of experience and an unparalleled wealth of reference on almost every aspect … This is a very well researched and informative book. It is and will be of benefit to doctors, lawyers, judges, ethicists and philosophers.' Irish Medical Journal

    'Bryan Jennett has written an admirably pragmatic and helpful overview of the present position concerning the diagnosis and management of the vegetative state in the UK. Jennett is uniquely placed to have completed this single author text having defined the condition and been involved in the medical and legal management of many of the high profile cases … The strength of this text likes in the overall coherence and unparalleled experience of the author. The book is easy to read and should be compulsory reading for those doctors who have to manage patients with profound cognitive impairment.' Brain

    'The mix of information and analysis contained in this book suggests it will be an invaluable aid for clinicians, lawyers and ethicists providing meaningful insights into each subject area … offers a comprehensive evaluation of current medical thinking on the diagnoses and management of this intriguing condition alongside a realistic account of the ethical issues and the response of the courts and legal commentators … the style and flare with which Jennett conducts his discussion makes it interesting and accessible, which will be especially useful to all who are new to the area … It is always a pleasure to read a well-written text that demonstrates its authors obvious expertise and passion for the subject and this work exemplifies that sentiment.' Medical Law Review

    'This book provides fascinating insight into international variations in ethics and legal precedents for withdrawal of care in the United States and 16 other countries and regions.' Nancy Childs, Texas NeuroRehab Center

    '… should be considered an essential item for your department and essential reading for neurosurgeons and neurointensivists in training.' British Journal of Neurosurgery

    '… the book well meets its title and should be unreservedly recommended to anyone who takes care of these people medically, legally, theologically or scientifically.' Advances in Clinical Neuroscience & Rehabilitation

    '… an excellent starting point for those interested in this condition, its medical management and the issue it raises. It is well referenced and indexed, giving the reader ample suggestions for further reading without losing the main focus. The fact that its author is someone who has to deal with the day-to-day realities of caring for badly brain damaged patients and the consequences of the medical care they receive makes his views and opinions particularly relevant.' Bulletin of Medical Ethics

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2002
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521441582
    • length: 242 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 154 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.41kg
    • contains: 54 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. A syndrome in search of a name
    2. Diagnosis
    3. Epidemiology - frequency and causes
    4. Pathology of the brain damage
    5. Prognosis for recovery and survival
    6. Attitudes to the permanent vegetative state
    7. Medical management
    8. Ethical issues
    9. Legal issues in the USA
    10. Legal issues in Britain
    11. Legal issues in other countries
    12. Details of some landmark cases

  • Author

    Bryan Jennett, University of Glasgow
    Bryan Jennett has had a long and distinguished career with unrivalled insight into the vegetative state. As Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Glasgow his research was instrumental in defining the condition, and in coining the term 'persistent vegetative state'. Since then he has continued to write extensively on this subject, to lecture widely around the world, and has been an expert witness in a number of key court cases.

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