Reasonable Accommodation of Religious or Moral Objection to Brain Death

This month's New York Supreme Court decision in Nakar v. New York Presbyterian Hospital is an important interpretation and application of New York rules on religious accommodation.  New York State Department of Health Guidelines for Determining Brain Death provide that "Hospitals must establish written procedures for the reasonable accommodation of the individual’s religious or moral objections to use of the brain death standard to determine death when such an objection has been expressed . . . ." In the context of brain death, accommodation can mean at least three separate things:Continue some physiological support after determination of death Delay the declaration of death Delay the determination of death ACCOMMODATION TYPE 1 – The 1987 Guidelines themselves and most subsequent commentary focus on Type 1 accommodation: physiological support AFTER determination of death. Consequently, many New York hospitals have policies allowing 24, 48, or 72…

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