Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, December 26, 2013

When Families and Hospitals Disagree


The legal dispute over whether to disconnect 13-year-old Jahi McMath from life support illustrates the highly sensitive and controversial nature of brain death.

A court-appointed physician recently concurred with a prior finding that the teenager, who suffered cardiac arrest during a tonsil surgery, is brain dead.  The court allowed the family to keep her on life support so they could spend one last Christmas with her, but it’s highly unlikely the court will continue to order the hospital and insurance company to foot the bill for this pricey medical intervention.

The California statute on brain death is unambiguous.  Once an outside physician confirms brain death, the person is dead and not entitled to further medical intervention.  Despite the wishes of Jahi’s family, the statute is highly likely to prevail in this case. 

See Gloria Goodale, Jahi McMath: Where the Law Stands When Hospitals and Families Disagree, Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 24, 2013. 

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference When Families and Hospitals Disagree:


She suffered profuse bleeding post-op, which her family was told to deal with themselves. A doctor was not called until she eventually suffered a heart attack due to all the blood loss and choking on her own blood. Any family would be having a difficult time with this, but especially they do given the circumstances of extreme medical neglect that Jahi McMath experienced right there in the hospital. Her mother had been told that this was a routine surgery and that it would improve her health. Now she doesn't know what to believe. Please read up more on this, because your facts are not what any of the news reports have stated. She did wake up after her surgery. She was talking with her family.

Posted by: Hannah Blessing | Dec 30, 2013 1:35:00 PM

Post a comment