Hospital policies on declaring patients brain dead vary widely

There is no hard and fast policy on how hospitals declare patients to be brain dead. According to a new study in JAMA Neurology of 492 hospitals, guidelines are implemented unevenly at best. For example, only one-third actually require an expert in neurology or neurosurgery to determine brain death, and 150 policies don't even mention who among the staff should make the determination. This sometimes leads to highly emotional clashes with the families of patients. For example, George Pickering II barricaded himself with a gun in a Houston hospital room to deter medical staff from taking his critically injured son off life support, the Washington Post reported. A physician with the SWAT team that finally arrested the elder Pickering determined that his son was indeed not brain dead. The son eventually recovered, but his father served nearly a year in prison for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Read the full article at FierceHealthcare