Bioethics Blogs

Brain Death in the Courts: Another Injunction Prohibiting Hospital from Conducting Apnea Test

Do clinicians need family consent to conduct an apnea test to confirm suspected brain death?

The Virginia courts are grappling with this question on the east coast (in the Miranda Lawson case).  Now, the California courts are grappling with this question on the west coast.

On June 3, 2016, Alex Pierce nearly drowned at an end-of-the-year middle school event.  He was transported to Inland Valley Medical Center and then to Loma Linda University Medical Center.   Two days later, Loma Linda informed the Pierce family that they were going to conduct a brain death test on Alex.

The family “ardently opposed” this plan, concerned that the brain death exam itself specifically the apnea test during which Alex would be taken off the ventilator for several minutes and exposed to dangerous levels of CO2 in his blood could cause further injury to Alex s brain.

The San Bernardino County Superior Court issued a TRO.  Another hearing is set for June 21, 2016.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.