This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," March 30, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight, we have obtained an audiotape from the former lawyer for Terri's family. We are told it is audio of Terri communicating with her father in 2002.
(AUDIOTAPE OF TERRI SCHIAVO)
VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us in Pinellas Park, Florida is criminal defense attorney Jeff Brown. And, here in Washington, is Dr. Carlos Gomez, a staff physician at Capital Hospice (search ), who specializes in end of life care.
Dr. Gomez, I know that you've not examined Terri. You've not heard any more of those tapes. Let's forget this tape for a second. But tell me, at end of life, if someone is in a persistent vegetative state would I be able to get the person to respond to me?
DR. CARLOS GOMEZ, END-OF-LIFE CARE SPECIALIST: You would get a reflex and I think that that's one of the confusing things about this case. You can get a person who is in a persistent vegetative state (search ) to move, to make utterances, to blink, to even track with their eyes but that doesn't mean that they're cognizant of what they're doing.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do I know the difference between a reflex and someone who is cognizant?
GOMEZ: One relatively simple test, and it's a simple task, so it's got its own flaws, is to do the same stimulus and then vary it and see if you get the same response.
So, if you are saying "ah" when I talk to you and then I tap your forehead and you say "ah" and then I tap your knee and you say "ah," it's probably a reflex. It's probably not a response or at least not a cognizant response to what's going on.
VAN SUSTEREN: What if it sort of changes in tone? Is that...
GOMEZ: We have normal inflection physiologically. I'm doing it right now. Sometimes I've got more air. Sometimes I've got less air. The same thing is true for Terri Schiavo.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jeff, I'm a little bit surprised. I mean I don't know — it's pretty plain to everybody I'm not a doctor --and it's pretty plain I've not examined Terri Schiavo. But what I don't understand is why this tape? You know, why it might — why it was not presented to the court with some sort of expert testimony one way or the other?
JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, I can't understand that either and I heard Pat Anderson talking before and Pat Anderson was a lawyer that was on this case. She's also not a doctor and the issue that she's raising is whether or not Terri Schiavo really is properly diagnosed as being in this permanent vegetative state.
I can't understand why -- if this evidence was around in 2002 -- it wasn't presented to a doctor and a doctor wasn't able to testify as to this in court. They had a hearing. I know they had a second hearing on it. So, I'm a little surprised that we're hearing about this evidence now.
And the real issue here shouldn't be answered by Pat Anderson, a lawyer, or myself but it should be put to the medical community and the question is, is that diagnosis correct --that the judge found was proven by clear and convincing evidence -- that she was in a persistent vegetative state?
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Dr. Gomez, if I hired you to determine whether someone in general is in a persistent vegetative state how do you do that?
GOMEZ: OK. First of all, hire a neurologist, not an internist.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK.
GOMEZ: That's the first thing.
VAN SUSTEREN: That's a good start.
GOMEZ: The second thing is there are tests that you can do at the bedside and what the previous physician said is true. It needs a time course. We're talking about 15 years here with no evidence of improvement. We're talking about situations in which patients do not appear to respond to us over a period of time.
Is Terri Schiavo in that state or not? I honestly don't know. I haven't examined her. But if you ask me, generically, can we make that sort of determination, in medicine these days we can. Now, nothing is 100 percent and if what people want is absolute certainty with any of these cases, they're always going to be disappointed.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Jeff, Dr. [Gomez], thank you both very much.
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