Intended for healthcare professionals


Two American hospitals in dilemma over brain death

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 05 March 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:618
  1. F B Charatan

    Baby K, a 16 month anencephalic girl, will stay on a ventilator at Fairfax Hospital, Virginia, after the federal appeal court decided that doctors must continue to treat her. Two out of three judges ruled that the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act applied in the case of Baby K. The law, enacted to prevent hospitals from dumping indigent patients, was interpreted by the judges to mean that hospitals must give emergency treatment to all patients who need it, even when doctors think that treatment is inappropriate. The judges said that Baby K needed emergency treatment for apnoea. The federal law pre-empts Virginian state law, which exempts doctors from having to provide …

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