Tag: medical futility blog

Blog Posts (1468)

December 6, 2016

Oliver Wendell Holmes on Death (audio from 1931)

Here is a recording of Oliver Wendell Holmes commenting about death in 1931 on his 90th birthday.  He retired from the court just a few weeks later. 

"In this symposium my part is only to sit in silence. To express one’s feelings as the end draws near is too intimate a task. But one thought that comes to me as a listener-in. The riders in the race do not stop short when they reach the goal. There is a little finishing canter before coming to a standstill. There is time to hear the kind voice of friends and to say to oneself that the work is done."

"But just as one says that, the answer comes: The race is over, but the work never is done while the power to work remains. The canter that brings you to a standstill need not be only coming to rest. It cannot be while you still live, but to live is to function. That is all there is. And so I end with a line from a Latin poet, who uttered the message more than fifteen-hundred years ago, Death, death, plucks my ear, and says, ‘Live. I am  coming.'"  (HT: John Blackman)

December 5, 2016

Jahi McMath Defendants Seek to Unseal Transcripts

For three years, the family of Jahi McMath has made numerous public claims that she is alive.  

The medical defendants in her malpractice lawsuit now want to rebut those claims by using evidence presented during hearings in December 2013.  But those records are under seal.  The family opposes the defendants' joint motion, citing Jahi's right to confidentiality.  A hearing is scheduled for December 13, 2016.

Furthermore, for those wanting to "catch up" on what this case is all about, the plaintiffs’ opposition brief provides a nice recap of the medical malpractice claims.  It also provides a recap of the evidentiary basis that Jahi is now alive.  Highlighting is mine.

"Here, based upon medical experts' evaluations of Jahi since Judge Grillo's ruling in 2013, she no longer fulfills standard brain death criteria, due to her ability to specifically respond to stimuli. The distinction between random cord-originating movements and true responses to command is crucial to diagnosis of brain death. Jahi is capable of intermittently responding intentionally to a verbal command."

"Additionally, the international team of  medical experts who gathered to observe, test and analyze Jahi's unprecedented progress in the fall of 2014 saw evidence of brain activity in the EEG.  They observed the brain activity increase and become 'readily identifiable  and profound' when Jahi's mother spoke to Jahi.  A long and thorough MRI was conducted in which they 'unequivocally saw the presence of brain structure including the evidence of ribbons in the brain."

"This is critical as it showed that the brain, although damaged, was there structurally.'  Nine months after Jahi was declared brain dead, the experts 'would have expected to see her brain had liquefied. It clearly was not.' Additionally, the experts looked for evidence of blood flow.  'Blood flow was clearly evident. This does not happen if a patient is brain dead.'"

"In overruling Defendants' demurrer to Plaintiffs' personal injury claim, this Court has properly rejected Defendants' argument that once their physicians opined in December 2013 that Jahi was brain dead for the purpose of removing life support, her death became static, fixed and permanent, and Jahi is absolutely precluded from alleging and proving that she is, in fact, alive."

"To the contrary, her condition has changed dramatically since Judge Grillo's ruling in December 2013 - among other changes, there are vast areas of structurally and relatively preserved brain, tests demonstrate intracranial blood flow consistent with the integrity of the MRI and inconsistent with brain death, and Jahi underwent menarche (her first ovulation cycle) and began breast development."

December 4, 2016

Health Law Classes Online J Term 2017

Legal Compliance Essentials for Drug, Device, and Biotech Companies

Dr. Seth Whitelaw, J.D.
January 2-13, 2017
2 J.D. credits
Approved for 15 on-demand standard CLE credits (event code: 227898)
Approved for 15 Regulatory Affairs Certification (RAC) Credits.
The Compliance Certification Board (CCB)® has approved this event for up to 10.8 CCB CEUs. Continuing Education Units are awarded based on individual attendance records. Granting of prior approval in no way constitutes endorsement by CCB of this program content or of the program sponsor


Dr. Seth Whitelaw, J.D., Founder, Whitelaw Compliance Group, LLCSenior Fellow and Adjunct Professor, Life Sciences Compliance


The U.S. health care system is composed of three primary parts: providers, payers, and finally manufacturers (drug, device, and biotech companies). It is a complex, complicated, and challenging system of laws, regulations, cases, guidance and, in some cases, folklore. This course is designed for the current and future attorney or compliance professional supporting drug, device, and biotech companies. Students will gain a practical understanding of the laws, regulations, cases, and guidance they will encounter in daily practice. Also, upon completion, all participants will understand how to design and operate an effective company compliance program.


O’Reilly, et. al, Food and Drug Administration, 4th ed. (can be accessed online via Westlaw)
Holland & Knight, Corporate Compliance Answer Book 2017, Practicing Law Institute

From Addiction to Zika: Current Issues in Public Health Law

Jill Krueger, J.D.

January 2-13, 2017
2 J.D. credits


This course explores public health law through the lens of current issues in population health. Prescription drug overdose and the zika virus have captured the attention of both policy-makers and the public, as have topics such as gun violence, obesity, access to care, vaccine refusal, medical marijuana, and smoking. We will examine the leading causes of preventable death, disease, and injury, both in and out of the spotlight. Students will analyze the underlying social, economic, and environmental factors that contribute to or detract from community health and well-being, as well as legal strategies to address those factors. In the process, the course introduces students to the fundamentals of public health law, including those constitutional, statutory, and administrative laws that empower or mandate government to act to advance community health and those that curtail governmental power to do so.


Required: Readings will be made available either through a bound supplement for sale in the bookstore, or through links on Blackboard.
Recommended: Public Health Law: Power, Duty, Restraint (3rd edition), Lawrence O. Gostin and Lindsay F. Wiley
December 4, 2016

Virginia Rejects Texas Futility Law and Opts to Further Study Legislation on Life-Sustaining Treatment Conflicts

Last month, the Virginia Joint Commission on Health Care decided not to move forward on specific proposals to amend the state Health Care Decisions Act.   If enacted, the VJCHC proposals would have made Virginia law similar to Texas law, by autho...
December 3, 2016

Speaking of Dying - End of Life Planning Workshop Minnesota

December 2, 2016

Respecting Choices and Disabilities Groups Collaborate on Decision Aids

It is wonderful to see disability organizations working together with advance care planning leader Respecting Choices. Some disability advocates expressed concerns that certain Respecting Choices decision aids (regarding medical nutritional and breath...
December 1, 2016

Critical Care Canada Forum 2016

Presentations from the 2016 Critical Care Forum are now posted to the website.   These include two by Bernat on brain death, one by Rubenfeld on the Rasouli case, and others on intensivist variability and end-of-life care.
November 30, 2016

James L. Bernat - Brain Death: Consensus and Controversies

Here is a superb overview video on the medical and philosophical aspects of brain death.  

James L. Bernat, professor of Neurosicence at Dartmouth, delivered this lecture in Barcelona at the Víctor Grífols i Lucas Foundation on November 15, 2016.

November 29, 2016

Texas Right to Life Seeks Repeal of Texas Advance Directive Act in 2017

Texas Right to Life has announced its legislative priorities for the 85th Texas legislative session that begins on January 10, 2017. Not surprisingly, this agenda includes a repeal of the dispute resolution provisions in the Texas Advance Directi...
November 29, 2016

Texas Right to Life Seeks Repeal of Texas Advance Directive Act in 2017

Texas Right to Life has announced its legislative priorities for the 85th Texas legislative session that begins on January 10, 2017. Not surprisingly, this agenda includes a repeal of the dispute resolution provisions in the Texas Advance Directi...

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