Bioethics Blogs

Ontario Consent & Capacity Board Declines to Hear Brain Death Disputes

The Ontario Consent & Capacity Board has adjudicated dozens of medical futility disputes (see also here).  Therefore, it is not surprising that the CCB has started seeing brain death conflicts.  They are just one specific type of medical futility dispute.  

In the past few weeks, the CCB issued judgments in both In re EI and In re UH, both automobile accident cases.  In EI, the patient was killed in an automobile accident.  Clinicians at Mississauga Hospital planned to withdraw organ support.  But the sister opposed that plan.  UH involved a similar conflict at Hamilton Hospital also after an auto accident.

In short, the CCB has declared that it lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate brain death conflicts under the Ontario HCCA.  First, since the patient is dead, there is no “person.”  Second, the dispute does not concern “treatment,” since that term is not germane to the application of mechanical ventilation to a dead body.  (HT: Borden Ladner Gervais)

Notably, Mississauga Hospital witnesses testified that they have had 56 brain death cases over the past 2.5 years.  In five (about 10%), families did not accept the diagnosis.  

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.