LAWSUIT STATES THAT DOCTORS PRESSURED TO DECLARE BRAIN DEAD
A lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court says that an organ donor network pressures doctors to declare brain dead so that body parts could be harvested. The suit also cited that this organ donor network hired “coaches” to train staffers how to be more persuasive when telling the families to let their loved ones go.
According to the New York Post, “The federally funded nonprofit used a “quota” system, and leaned heavily on the next of kin to sign consent forms when patients were not registered as organ donors, the suit charged.” The plaintiff, Patrick McMahon, 50, an Air Force combat veteran and nurse practitioner, says, “They’re playing God,”.
The NYP article continues: “In September 2011, a 19-year-old man injured in a car wreck was admitted to Nassau University Medical Center. He was still trying to breathe and showed signs of brain activity, the suit charged.
But doctors declared him brain dead under pressure from donor-network officials, including Director Michael Goldstein, who allegedly said during a conference call: “This kid is dead, you got that?” the suit charged.
The patient’s family consented to have the organs harvested.
“I have been in Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan in combat. I worked on massive brain injuries, trauma, gunshot wounds, IEDs. I have seen worse cases than this and the victims recover,” McMahon told The Post.
That same month, a woman was admitted to St. Barnabas Hospital in The Bronx still showing signs of life, the suit said.
She had a kidney transplant earlier in life and network officials used that to pressure her daughter into giving consent.
“They say to her, ‘If you give us permission we will use your mother’s organs and we will help many, many people who need them,’ ” he said.
McMahon’s objections were ignored by a neurologist, who declared her brain dead — and her organs were harvested, according to the suit. McMahon even claims he tried to get a second opinion.
A month later, a man was admitted to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, again showing brain activity, the suit said. McMahon claims his protests were again blown off by hospital and donor-network staff, and the man was declared brain dead and his organs harvested.
In November 2011, a woman admitted to Staten Island University Hospital after a drug overdose was declared brain dead and her organs were about to be harvested when McMahon noticed that she was being given “a paralyzing anesthetic” because her body was still jerking.
When he objected, another network employee told hospital personnel McMahon was “an untrained troublemaker with a history of raising frivolous issues and questions,” the suit charged.
“I had a reputation for raising a red flag,” he said.
In order to harvest organs, the network needs a “Note” — an official declaration by a hospital that a patient is brain dead — and consent from next of kin.
The network hired marketing and sales professionals to “coach” workers to tailor their pitches based on the family’s demographics, said the suit, filed by McMahon’s lawyers Michael Borrelli, Alexander Coleman and Bennitta Joseph.
The suit said that on Nov. 4, McMahon told Helen Irving, president and CEO of the network, “one in five patients declared brain dead show signs of brain activity at the time the Note is issued.”
Irving, the suit said, replied: “This is how things are done.”
Network spokeswoman Julia Rivera said she hadn’t seen the suit, but noted that only doctors can declare a patient brain dead.
She called McMahon’s claims of a quota system “ridiculous. There are no quotas.”
A point made from Wesley J. Smith from the NRO, (http://www.nationalreview.com/human-exceptionalism/328727/lawsuit-contends-pressure-declare-brain-dead#comments): “So often, as here, these important cases seem to involve a fired righteous whistle blower who may actually be a disgruntled fired employee making trouble. But the mere filing of this lawsuit is a warning, that should get us thinking about preserving trust and integrity in organ transplant medicine: First, we need binding national standards for declaring death in organ donation cases that are followed universally in hospitals. We don’t have them. Second, there does seem to be a potential to treat some patients as organ farms if the case is seen as hopeless. This utilitarianism needs to be resisted at all quarters. Third, trust in the integrity of the medical system is waning–and with the pressure to cut costs in healthcare growing stronger, it will weaken further–which is why we can never accept a “presumed consent” system of organ donation. Finally, the quality of life ethic poisons all it touches. People who believe–rightly or wrongly–that their loved ones were abandoned for their kidneys and livers will refuse consent. If we want a thriving organ transplant medical sector, it is up to doctors, hospitals, and the procuring organizations to hold the line, to walk the extra mile to earn and maintain the trust of the people. Allegations such as this need to be seriously investigated, and if true, lanced with the antiseptic of transparency.”
Hattip to WOG Blog where I was first alerted to the story.