Bioethics Blogs

Physician Power to Declare Death by Neurologic Criteria Threatened

My new article with Ariane Lewis is now available from NEUROCRITICAL CARE – “Physician Power to Declare Death by Neurologic Criteria Threatened.”


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.

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.