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Neurocritical Care

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 446–449 | Cite as

Physician Power to Declare Death by Neurologic Criteria Threatened

  • Ariane LewisEmail author
  • Thaddeus Mason Pope
Ethical Matters

Abstract

Background

Three recent lawsuits that address declaration of brain death (BD) garnered significant media attention and threaten to limit physician power to declare BD.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

Physicians, philosophers, religious officials, ethicists, and lawyers must work together to address these issues and educate both the public and medical community about BD.

Keywords

Brain death Death by neurologic criteria Medicolegal UDDA 

Notes

Author's Contribution

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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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Neurocritical Care, Departments of Neurology and NeurosurgeryNYU Langone Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Mitchell Hamline School of LawSaint PaulUSA

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