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From the 1976 case of Karen Ann Quinlan to the March, 20, 2004, statement of Pope John Paul II, physicians, lawyers, and theologians have struggled with the legal and ethical implications of treatment and public policy decisions in the context of devastating brain injury. Recent medical literature proposing an ethical framework for interventional cognitive neuroscience involving patients in states of minimal consciousness raises additional legal and ethical issues in the context of clinical research.

Using the Mathew Kosbob case as a point of departure, this article discusses the legal and ethical issues raised by treatment and research, as well as public policy decisions, involving patients who are either in a persistent vegetative or minimally conscious state.

Publication Citation

14 Annals Health L. 1 (2005).