Patients in a Permanent Vegetative State or Minimally Conscious State in the Maine-Et-Loire County of France: A Cross-Sectional, Descriptive Study
Annals of physical and rehabilitation medicine 2010 Mar ; 53(2): 96-104
PURPOSES: To determine how many patients in a permanent vegetative state or a minimally conscious state are living in healthcare institutions in the Maine-et-Loire county of western France. To evaluate patient management, physical complications, problems encountered by nursing staff and the patient care teams' wishes. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional, descriptive study in physical medicine and rehabilitation departments, nursing homes, geriatric units and local hospitals. All patients and their medical records were examined by the same investigator. A questionnaire for carers was used to evaluate nursing tasks and a second questionnaire for head nurses served to assess staff needs and the patient care teams' wishes. RESULTS: Thirteen patients were identified. Four were in a permanent vegetative state and nine were in a minimally conscious state. Ten patients were cared for in geriatric units, one in a physical medicine and rehabilitation department and two in local hospitals. All patients displayed limited joint angle ranges. All the patient care teams reported practical difficulties and ethical issues. DISCUSSION: Our survey highlighted the variety of care scenarios for patients in a permanent vegetative state or a minimally conscious state. It revealed practical difficulties and, above all, ethical questions. The present work could serve as a basis for implementation of a recently issued French government circular on defining specific wards for these patients.
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