Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate

An Ethical Debate: A legal comment

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 18 March 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:718
  1. Robert Francis

    The concern that elective ventilation of an unconscious patient before death occurs may be unlawful is well founded and echoes the views of academic commentators.1 2

    There is a distinction between the rights in respect of a dead body and a living patient. After death, provided the statutory requirements are complied with,3 it is lawful to remove organs for donation. Failure to comply with those requirements may be a criminal offence4 5 or a tort, but when removal of organs is so justified, postmortem steps to preserve the body for that purpose …

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