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Guidelines issued for diagnosing minimally conscious states

New Yorkers who suffer brain injuries may fall into vegetative or minimally conscious states. For people who have prolonged periods of problems with consciousness, getting the proper diagnosis is vital for their chances of recovery. Now, guidelines have been released for the proper diagnosis of people who are in minimally conscious or vegetative states.

The guidelines, which were published in the online journal Neurology, offer recommendations to help to improve the diagnosis and care of people who are believed to be in minimally conscious or vegetative states. An estimated 40 percent of people who are believed to be unconscious actually are consciously aware.

The lead author of the guidelines states that some people suffer from conditions that may mask the fact that they are aware. For these people, being misdiagnosed might mean that they do not receive the proper care and may have worsened health outcomes. The guidelines recommend that people should be diagnosed by experts in treating and diagnosing these types of neurological disorders and that tests should be performed multiple times during the first three months following a brain injury.

A doctor's misdiagnosis of a vegetative state may leave people who are actually aware stuck and unable to communicate with people around them. They may not receive the care that they need for their disorders and have worsened prognoses. People who have loved ones who have been harmed after receiving improper diagnoses may want to consult with experienced medical malpractice attorneys who may assist their clients with gathering the medical evidence that may be needed to support the basis for their claims and file medical malpractice lawsuits on their behalf.

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