The Ethics of Managing Disorders of Consciousness

  • Athena DemertziEmail author
  • Olivia Gosseries
  • Marie-Aurélie Bruno
  • Caroline Schnakers
  • Audrey Vanhaudenhuyse
  • Camille Chatelle
  • Vanessa Charland-Verville
  • Aurore Thibaut
  • Marie Thonnard
  • Steven Laureys


The ethical issues accrued from the study and management of severely brain-injured patients are varied and multi-faceted. The medical, legal and public controversies are partly shaped by how different people think about these issues and in many cases are culturally-dependent. An ethical framework needs to be shaped to guide clinicians and caregivers in terms of clinical diagnosis, prognosis, and medical management. In this chapter, we will give a brief overview of some ethical issues related to the concept of consciousness and the medical management of patients with disorders of consciousness such as comatose, vegetative/unresponsive and minimally conscious states that may be encountered in the intensive care setting. We will emphasize the problem of pain management and end-of-life decision-making.


Advance Directive Conscious State Minimally Conscious State Conscious Perception Intensive Care Setting 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Athena Demertzi
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Olivia Gosseries
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Marie-Aurélie Bruno
    • 1
    • 2
  • Caroline Schnakers
    • 1
    • 2
  • Audrey Vanhaudenhuyse
    • 1
    • 2
  • Camille Chatelle
    • 1
    • 2
  • Vanessa Charland-Verville
    • 1
    • 2
  • Aurore Thibaut
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marie Thonnard
    • 1
    • 2
  • Steven Laureys
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Coma Science Group, Cyclotron Research CenterUniversity of LiègeLiègeBelgium
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyCHU University Hospital of LiègeLiègeBelgium
  3. 3.National Fund for Scientific ResearchLiègeBelgium

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