Families Obstruct Brain Death Testing

Do clinicians need family consent to perform brain death testing on patients strongly suspected to be dead? U.S. jurisdictions are split on the answer to this question. Courts in both Montana and Kansas have ruled that clinicians may not administer brain death tests over parental objections. In contrast, a Virginia court ruled that clinicians could proceed over parental objections. Similarly, last year, the Nevada legislature amended its state Uniform Determination of Death Act to provide that “determination of the death . . . is a clinical decision that does not require the consent of the person’s . . .  representative.” In short, we have a 2-2 tie. Is consent required? Montana: Yes Kansas: Yes Nevada: No Virginia: No Objecting to brain death testing appears to be a new strategy on the part of some pro-life organizations: focus on asserting rights while the family still has some, BEFORE death is determined. Interestingly, an analogous consent…

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