Physician Power to Declare Death by Neurologic Criteria Threatened
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Three recent lawsuits that address declaration of brain death (BD) garnered significant media attention and threaten to limit physician power to declare BD.
We discuss these cases and their consequences including: the right to refuse an apnea test, accepted medical standards for declaration of BD, and the irreversibility of BD.
These cases warrant discussion because they threaten to: limit physicians’ power to determine death; incite families to seek injunctions to continue organ support after BD; and force hospitals to dispense valuable resources to dead patients in lieu of patients with reparable illnesses or injuries.
Physicians, philosophers, religious officials, ethicists, and lawyers must work together to address these issues and educate both the public and medical community about BD.
KeywordsBrain death Death by neurologic criteria Medicolegal UDDA
Ariane Lewis was responsible for conception and design, drafting the manuscript, and final approval of the manuscript. Thaddeus Pope was responsible for conception and design, supervision, critical revision of the manuscript and final approval of the manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
Ariane Lewis and Thaddeus Pope have no conflicts of interest.
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