I’ll have to read it later. Here’s what seemed significant to me after a brief lunchtime glance: her brain was half the size it should have been; there is no conclusion as to whether she was in a PVS, as that diagnosis must be made of a living person; she probably could not have learned to swallow on her own; there are indications of “cortical blindness”; it’s unclear whether she suffered from bulimia; she apparently did not have a heart attack; there are no signs of strangulation (though this is based primarily upon medical records and not the pathological examination); and there is no sign of trauma (though here again the report relies heavily on contemporaneous records).
Take a look and tell me what you see.
P.S. I have no intention of relying on press reports to interpret the report, since the press can’t be trusted to accurately report on hot-button issues like this. Interestingly, the autopsy report itself confirms this. For example, the L.A. Times reported in March:
Terri Schiavo, now 41, suffered a heart attack Feb. 25, 1990, the result of a potassium imbalance brought on by an eating disorder.
Nope and not necessarily. The report says that “the main piece of evidence supporting a diagnosis of Bulimia Nervosa is suspect or, at least, can be explained by her clinical condition at the time of the blood draw.” It also says there is no evidence that she had a heart attack. No matter; the L.A. Times confidently reported these assertions as though there was not the slightest doubt about them.
Many (including me) had questioned whether Schiavo had truly suffered from an eating disorder. (Many also questioned whether she had suffered a heart attack.) But for others, it was enough that these things had been “widely reported.” Well, that’s true: they had been . . . and the reports were not based on solid evidence. (Of course, when I pointed that out, I was told: “Dude, this is nothing but a blog, not a stinking courtroom.”)
So forget the news reports. Look at the report yourself. Ask a doctor you trust to read it. Let me know if I got anything wrong, or if you see anything else important.
UPDATE: Jeff Harrell in the comments makes an important distinction between cardiac arrest and myocardial infarction. Let me quote the part of the report that caused me to say that, according to the report, there is no evidence that Schiavo had a heart attack (as that term is typically understood):
The common term “heart attack” is generally reserved to describe the medical condition of myocardial infarction. Mrs. Schiavo’s heart was anatomically normal without any areas of recent or remote myocardial infarction.
Her heart (including the cardiac valves, conduction system and myocardium) was essentially unremarkable except for an apparently incidental finding of focal peridcardial adhesions (see cardiovascular pathology report).
I think it’s also important to note that, as far as I can tell, nothing in the report suggests abuse on the part of Michael Schiavo, and plenty (including the major points I noted above) seems to contraindicate that. Again, this is based on a quick skimming, which is all I had time to do over lunch. I am eager to hear from any civil commenters who can provide further illumination, and thanks to Jeff Harrell for that clarification.