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02/22/2018

Do AAN Clinical Criteria for Brain Death Satisfy the Uniform Determination of Death Act?

The family of Jahi McMath contends that the American Academy of Neurology criteria for measuring brain death do not satisfy the requirements of the Uniform Determination of Death Act (which almost every US state, including California, has adopted).


A key question in the medical malpractice litigation is whether Jahi is alive or dead. But before introducing evidence on that point, we must first ascertain the relevant standard for determining life and death. At first, the dispute concerned only whether or not Jahi satisfied the AAN criteria (a fact dispute). Now the dispute also concerns which criteria are the appropriate criteria (a legal dispute).


To efficiently manage the litigation, the McMath family moved to bifurcate the litigation – to decide the legal question first. That motion was originally scheduled to be heard on March 8, 2018. It is now scheduled for April 19, 2018. The defendants apparently want to a chance to depose Alan Shewmon to better understand why he think the AAN criteria do not satisfy the UDDA.

The delay on the motion to bifurcate seems warranted. This motion challenges the very legitimacy of the way in which brain death is measured and assessed in the United States. The briefing should be as informed as possible.

Alan Shewmon

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged . Posted by Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD. Bookmark the permalink.

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