Because doctors are shunning the latest diagnostic techniques available, and going instead with their instincts, they’re misdiagnosing levels of consciousness. Experimenters found that of 44 patients diagnosed as being in a vegetative state, 18 were found to be in a minimally conscious state (so, capable of feeling pain). And of 41 patients diagnosed as being in a minimally conscious state, 4 had emerged from it without their doctors noticing.
When a patient is apparently comatose, the techniques of the phenomenologist are unavailable to the practicing MD. Never mind anti-behaviourist scruples, detecting consciousness is, in practice, a process of skilled behavioural observation.
The Search for Neural Correlates of Consciousness
By Jakob Hohwy, Monash University
(Vol. 2, April 2007)
Theories of Consciousness
By Uriah Kriegel, University of Arizona/University of Sydney
(Vol. 1, February 2006)