Bioethics Blogs

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for Conducting Brain Death Apnea Test WITHOUT Consent

The issue of whether consent is necessary for an apnea brain death test is at the heart of Lawson v. VCU, now pending before the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Now, another case addresses the same issue.  Lydia Cassaro, the mother of Randall Bianchi, has already brought other legal actions concerning the medical treatment of her son.  Her new lawsuit, filed in Cook County, Illinois, alleges that clinicians were negligent for conducting a brain death apnea test without her consent.  Here are excerpts from the complaint.

“67. The apnea  test  – which  cuts off  oxygen  to the brain  – causes hypoxia and hypercapnia, and will bring about severe, irreversible brain damage in patients, who, with proper care, would otherwise survive.”

“68. Despite being available, the Defendants did not  obtain informed consent from both Lydia and Mark to perform the apnea test.”

“77. At  8:00 PM, Defendant Friedman, administered a second apnea test, likely causing further  irreversible brain injury.

“78. Again, the Defendants did not obtain informed consent from both Lydia and Mark to perform the second apnea test.”


“150. Defendants  Rivard  and Friedman  did not allow Lydia, or any other family  member to provide or withhold consent for the apnea test, which is a procedure that has risks involved, especially  if a patient  is not brain  dead  and has anoxic brain  injury  (which the apnea test induced hypercapnia-increased C02–can worsen).”

“172. Despite the  significant   risks   involved,   Defendant  Advocate Condell MedicalCenter did not require  a consent form to be signed by a proper surrogate(s) prior to performing the apnea test.”

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.