We need to have a national conversation on how we use the term, Life Support, as in this case… It was DEATH support….
by James Zisfein, M.D.
Chief, Division of Neurology, and Chair, Ethics Committee, Lincoln Medical Center
Why does it matter, to those of us involved in clinical ethics, that physicians are losing the authority to determine that a person has died?
I offer several reasons, in increasing order of importance:
Firstly, there is the (wasted) financial cost of maintaining dead people in critical care beds. However, even with the loss of physician authority to determine death becoming more common (due to publicity surrounding the Jahi McMath case), this cost is but a small fraction of our national health expenditures.
A more important reason is damage to professional integrity. The damage cannot be easily measured, but it’s real. The most bitter complaint I hear from…
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