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Study shows hospitals not following brain-death guidelines

North Carolina doctors are sometimes forced to declare patients brain dead. A study published in December 2015 reveals that many hospitals do not follow the established guidelines they are supposed to follow in making that determination, however.

According to the researchers, many hospitals have yet to implement the American Academy of Neurology Practice Parameters that were published in 2010. In some cases, hospitals allow inexperienced doctors to declare patients as brain dead despite the fact that the ANPP specifically states such practitioners should not make those decisions.

The researchers studied data from 492 hospitals across the nation. Among the hospitals, 43 percent admitted to allowing attending physicians to declare patients brain dead in contravention of the guidelines. The rules were promulgated in 2010 by the American Academy of Neurology to help doctors and hospitals differentiate between patients that could potentially wake up from comatose states and ones who are brain dead. While the researchers indicated the numbers were better for 2015 than in 2014, they also indicated the lack of consistency across hospitals still needs significant work to get to 100 percent compliance.

Allowing an inexperienced physician to declare a patient brain dead may significantly increase the risk of medical error. Failing to implement the AANP guidelines is potentially a type of hospital negligence, which may make the hospital and the doctor potentially liable in a wrongful death lawsuit. Families who have found themselves in this type of a position after having lost a loved one may want to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer to see if any recourse may be available.

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