Sunday, July 06, 2003

"Brain dead." From time to time I give a talk to health professionals entitled, "Medically dead, legally dead, brain dead, or really dead?," intended to highlight (and dispel) popular confusion about the concept of brain death (more accurately: "death according to neurological criteria"). A source of confusion are news media that almost invariably get it wrong. Ironically, I made this point in my Bioethics class just this past Thursday, and The Dallas Morning News promptly obliged with an article in the Metro section of today's paper. Reporting on a tragic drive-by shooting during a 4th of July cookout, the author stated: "Juan Medina, 20, a father of one of the wounded children, was declared brain-dead but was being kept alive by life support Saturday evening." "Brain dead" is not "sort of dead" or "partly dead": it's dead dead! Poor Mr. Medina may be on a ventilator, but he's not alive. My prediction: in tomorrow's paper, the Morning News will dutifully report that the brain-dead Mr. Medina was taken off life-support and "allowed to die." You heard it here first.
posted by tommayo, 10:42 AM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter