November 24th, 2009
10:35 AM ET

Trapped 'coma' man: How was he misdiagnosed?

Mark Tutton

A Belgian car crash victim who was misdiagnosed as being in a vegetative state for 23 years was conscious the whole time, it has emerged.

Rom Houben was 23 at the time of his accident, but tests carried out by Dr. Laureys of the University of Liege, in Belgium, revealed that although Houben was believed to be in a persistent vegetative state, he was fully aware.

The case has highlighted the difficulties doctors face when trying to diagnose the level of consciousness of a patient in a coma-like state.

A study carried out last year on 103 patients by Laureys and his colleagues at Liege's Coma Science Group found that 41 per cent of patients in a Minimally Conscious State (MCS) were misdiagnosed as being in the much more serious Vegetative State (VS).

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Duane White

    "facilitated communication" is a sham. This case exposes how sloppy journalism perpetuates the wishful thinking of grieving families (and others.) The media and others who accepted this original report at face value and did not question or research the claims were well duped. Now the same media have a responsibility to correct their errors.

    February 26, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  2. Dana

    Would love to see some follow-up on this story so we can get the details on how they were able to fool everyone.

    February 26, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  3. Peter Ilott

    Now that this has been shown to be a total fraud, as are all "facilitated communication" has been shown to be over and over again, CNN has a duty to report that the initial reports of his "misdiagnossis" were misdiagnosed !!!

    Anderson please do the right thing and follow up this story on air so the misled public can know the truth about this terrible fraud. This FC stuff is just another in a long list of fraudulent "techniques" pushed by various con artists, that take advantage of peoples grief and fears.

    Do the right thing,,, expose this nonsense.

    February 26, 2010 at 4:28 pm |

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