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Death Be Not Proud, But Could You Please Be Permanent?

Posted by Andrew J. Barovick | Oct 20, 2008 | 0 Comments

Enough British dead people have come back to life to warrant the UK's Academy of Royal Medical Colleges to issue new guidelines on diagnosing death, according to today's BBC NEWS .  According to the BBC's report, patients who had been exposed to extreme cold were presumed dead, but came alive once their core body temperature rose.  There have also been instances when sedatives have fooled physicians into thinking that a sedated patient was dead.

It's just not the simple diagnosis that everyone assumed it was.  After all, in the movies, when the bad guy gets shot in the gut, doubles over and falls onto the ground, that's it.  End of story.  The farm has been bought, even if a doctor has to reach over and touch the victim's neck, and give that solemn nod signifying the bad news.

The guidelines hold that death should now be regarded as the irreversible loss of the capacity for consciousness, combined with irreversible loss of the capacity to breathe.  Apparently, the new guidelines became necessary, in part, due to the high demand for organs to be used for donation and transplantation.

 In this country, Philadelphia attorney Leon Aussprung recently initiated a medical malpractice action against a hospital for mistakenly declaring his client dead, which apparently resulted in medical setbacks additional to those that had brought her to the hospital in the first place.  Attorney Aussprung, who is also a physician, provides further detail in his blog ,

About the Author

Andrew J. Barovick

Mr. Barovick is a graduate of Columbia College and Cardozo School of Law. He began his legal career at the Queens District Attorney’s Office, where he tried over 20 felonies to verdict, and argued an equal number of appeals before the Appellate Division, Second Department, the New York Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.


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$7.9 million dollars for infant client who suffered severe brain injuries due to post- delivery medical malpractice.

$500,000 wrongful death/medical malpractice settlement on behalf of patient brought to hospital emergency room with serious injuries who suffered complications while unmonitored and died.

$425,000 wrongful death/medical malpractice settlement during trial on behalf of senior hospital patient whose surgeon failed to timely address her worsening symptoms, resulting in her death.

$250,000 to young man whose physician failed to diagnose an impending torsion testicle, causing the loss of the affected testicle.

$200,000 to young mother whose OB/GYN failed to timely diagnose and treat her ectopic pregnancy, resulting in excruciating, long-term pain and the need for surgery to address the ectopic pregnancy once it was diagnosed.