Families of Two Young Females Battling Hospitals Over Life Support Judgments

Laura Woods | January 7th, 2014

hospital malpractice in ny

Two young females have been declared brain dead, but kept alive on ventilators, while their grieving families are forced to battle with hospital officials over disagreements regarding medical judgments.

The family of one patient is hoping for a miracle and wants to keep her on life support, while the other family wants to honor the wishes of their loved one and take her off the ventilator. However, neither family is able to make the decision on their own, as each is facing obstacles from their respective hospitals.

Arthur Caplan, an expert on hospital malpractice in NY, believes that wrongdoing has occurred in the handling of both cases. Caplan, director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone believes the cases have brought the fundamental problem of the common and incorrect belief that brain death is not as final as cardiac death to the national spotlight.

Surgical errors present in both cases

On December 12, 13-year-old Jahi McMath was declared brain dead by doctors in Oakland, California, after she underwent surgery to resolve issues related to sleep apnea. Doctors performed a common, but not routine surgery removing her tonsils, adenoids, and extra sinus tissue.

A judge concluded that the girl is brain dead, but her family wants to keep her on life support and move her to another facility in hopes of a miracle.

However, the hospital’s chief of pediatrics refuses to authorize the move, claiming that inserting necessary tracheostomy and gastrostomy tubes into a deceased person is inappropriate. The girl’s family and the hospital are currently battling out the situation in court.

In Caplan’s opinion hospitals aren’t helping families by providing the option to keep a brain dead patient on life support. He believes doctors should clearly explain the finality of brain death to the family, instead of allowing them to garner false hope.

Another case, that of pregnant 33-year-old Marlise Munoz is currently ongoing in Fort Worth, Texas. She has been unresponsive since November 26, when her husband discovered her lying on their kitchen floor. While she is currently being kept alive on a ventilator, her family wants to remove the life support due to her wishes, but Texas state law does not allow a pregnant patient to be removed from “life-sustaining treatment.”

Caplan believes that if Munoz is indeed brain dead, the ventilator is not acting as the intended “life-sustaining treatment.”

Hospital malpractice in NY

If you or a loved one has been the victim of surgical errors in New York, it’s important to know your rights. Victims of medical negligence are being compensated for their pain and suffering, but it is crucial to consult an experienced malpractice lawyer to determine your lawsuit eligibility.

Hospital malpractice victims must contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible, to have someone on their side to guide them through the process. You need a lawyer with extensive experience working on New York medical malpractice cases in your corner.

At The Sanders Firm, our knowledgeable attorneys have more than four decades of combined experience working with clients in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens and Long Island to ensure justice is served on their cases. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case. Call toll free at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY (1-800-324-7752).


  1. CNN, When Life Support is Really Death Support http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/28/health/life-support-ethics/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

  2. CNN, Two crucial hearings today in fight over Jahi McMath http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/03/health/jahi-mcmath-girl-brain-dead/