This paper concerns the topic of the Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) and some of the ethical dilemmas surrounding it. PVS is defined as a “condition in which the patient is wakeful but devoid of conscious content, without cognitive or affective mental function” (Smeltzer, Bare, Hinkle, & Cheever, 2010, p. 1857). This is an important subject to nurses as they are called to be advocates for patients and endeavor to “do no harm.” The primary loyalty of the nurse is to the patient. We are expected to be advocates especially to vulnerable populations. Patients have the right to self determination but those in persistent vegetative states may be vulnerable to the wishes of their surrogates or medical providers in the case of misdiagnosis. Nurses, being the closest healthcare provider to the patient, can offer enlightenment and information that other members of a multidisciplinary team cannot. It is pertinent for nurses to become more informed about these issues and to educate others.
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