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Brain death guidelines inconsistently applied

End-of-life decisions can be stressful for loved ones of those who are passing. However, Oregon health care providers may help deal with challenges in this area, especially in cases of possible brain death. Guidelines have been established to ensure that the diagnosis of brain death is as accurate as possible, but recent studies indicate that these policies are not being implemented consistently in hospitals.

Although some misdiagnoses have minor implications, brain death is viewed as a situation that needs to be diagnosed with complete accuracy. Studies indicate that more than 40 percent of hospitals actually permit attending physicians to make this determination, putting less experienced professionals in charge of serious decisions in spite of American Academy of Neurology guidelines. Additionally, other policy deviations are found in many hospitals. Following all guidelines is important to ensure that a patient who might emerge from a coma is not accidentally misdiagnosed as brain dead.

Because hospital negligence can result in legal problems related to a patient’s injury or death, many areas of medical practice in hospital settings are regulated through the implementation of preventive protocols. With possible brain death, a patient is unable to speak on their own behalf. This makes careful evaluation by a highly skilled provider important for avoiding any possibility of mistake.

A family suspecting that a loved one’s death may have resulted from hospital negligence might want to discuss the issue with an attorney. As a lawyer evaluates such a case, there may be a need to review medical records and gather statements from those involved in that person’s care. Although some such cases may proceed to court, many can be settled outside of court.