New Mexico residents may be surprised to find out that not all doctors see eye to eye on what constitutes brain death. A study published on Dec. 28 in the medical journal JAMA Neurology indicates that there is a lot of inconsistency when it comes to incorporating certain brain death guidelines in hospitals.
Brain death occurs when the functions of the entire brain cease operating irreversibly. This is the standard for when most doctors around the world determine that life has ended. In 2010, the American Academy of Neurology provided the medical community with a clear set of parameters to determine that brain death had occurred. However, a study of the way that 492 medical facilities made this diagnosis between 2012 and 2015 found significant inconsistencies.
The AAN guidelines, which were co-written by one of the researchers behind the study, require the pronouncement of brain death to be made by doctors with experience of neurology. According to the study, 150 medical facilities made no mention of the doctors authorized to pronounce a patient brain dead, and two-thirds of them allowed the task to be performed by physicians with no experience of neurology. Overall, 40 percent of the hospitals studied allowed the patient’s attending physician make the call.
This study reveals that what happens in one hospital will not necessarily happen at another. Patients who are misdiagnosed or suffer injury due to a medical error may file a malpractice claim. A personal injury attorney with experience in this area may also pursue legal remedies when injury, loss or damage are caused by factors such as hospital understaffing or inadequately trained doctors or nurses.