Friday, September 4, 2009

We already have "after-death" panels....

... which goes a long way toward explaining why we, as a society, can't actually have a realistic conversation about issues of medically futile treatments for terminally ill patients.

Thaddeus Pope of Medical Futility explains--be sure to savor the segment in bold:

Yesterday, I wrote here about a West Virginia court that ordered a hospital to continue treating a brain dead patient. For context, it is worth mentioning that such orders are regularly obtained by family members from courts across the United States. One of the more visible, recent cases was that of Motl Brody at DC Childrens.

Granted, usually (though not always) the courts grant only temporary (stop-gap) relief, giving everybody a chance to catch their breath and explore options. Rarely does the court issue a permanent injunction. On the other hand, the physiological nature of these cases typically means that there is no need for families to ask for permanent injunctive relief. The patient will, within the TRO o temporary injunction period, satisfy both the either-or prongs of the criteria for death: complete brain death and complete cessation of cardio-pulmonary function.

Still, if we are litigating over how to deploy medical treatment for corpses, that surely indicates that we are hardly anywhere the requisite consensus over how to deploy medical resources for the dying or terminally ill.

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