Gorovitz & Borten, P.C.
Attorneys at Law

550 Cochituate Road, Suite 25
Framingham, Massachusetts
Tel: (781) 890-9095
Brain Death
Brain death is defined as the irreversible loss of all functions of the
brain. It is different from a persistent vegetative state, in which a person
is alive with retention of some autonomic functions. A brain death
person can be legally declared dead even if life support equipment
maintains the body’s metabolic processes functioning.

Brain injury that is the result of lack of oxygen (and progresses to brain
death) can occur during a surgical procedure under general anesthesia
as well as some diagnostic procedures now performed under heavy
sedation. Lack of oxygen at the time of surgical procedure leads to
ischemic hypoxic encephalopathy which progresses to brain death if
prolonged for several minutes.

The diagnosis of brain death is a clinical diagnosis. A full clinical
examination must include two (2) assessments of brain stem reflexes
and an apnea test to be conclusive. In the absence of these
confirmatory tests, brain death cannot be diagnosed and certified. An
EEG (electroencephalogram) test is not required to certify death, but it
is considered to have confirmatory value.

Brain death certification requires a process to be followed that includes:

•        Identification of a clear etiology of brain dysfunction
•        Irreversibility of coma
•        Exclusion of any condition that might confound the examination of
cortical or
    brain stem function
•        A complete neurological examination

    o        Absence of spontaneous movement
    o        Absent pupillary reflex
    o        Absent corneal, cough and gag reflexes
    o        Absent oculovestibular reflex
    o        Failure of heart rate to increase by more than 5 beats per
minute after 1- 2 mg of Atropine intravenously
    o        Absent respiratory efforts in the presence of hypercarbia
(elevated CO2)
•        Assessment of brain stem reflexes
•        Interval observation period
•        Confirmatory testing

When brain death is the result of prolonged lack of oxygen supply to
the brain, it is important to ascertain the cause of oxygen deprivation to
the brain. In some instances, the decrease in oxygen supply to the
brain is the result of a preventable cause or negligence, and the
underlying circumstances should be reviewed and evaluated by
experienced medical malpractice counsel.

Brain death may give rise to a medical malpractice cause of action. If as
a result of a physician's or nurse's error the condition of a patient
worsened or a patient has been unexpectedly injured, the family
deserves legal representation. If a patient has suffered from lack of
oxygen and subsequent brain death due to a physician's or nurse's
error, let
Dr. Borten and the Boston area medical malpractice attorneys
at Gorovitz & Borten review the specifics of your case. We can help you
assert your rights and get the compensation you deserve.
Contact Information
For a free confidential consultation and receive a response within 24
hours (when possible), please contact us by phone, fax or e-mail with
your question or concern.

Telephone:  781-890-9095     -     Fax:   781-890-9098
Electronic mail:
Questions or Inquiries to:

Website disclaimer: The materials on this website have been prepared by
Gorovitz & Borten, P.C. for informational purposes only and are not intended, and
should not be construed as legal advice. This information is not intended to create
and receipt of it does not constitute a lawyer-client relationship. Similarly, any
submission or receipt of information using electronic "Contact Us" form does not
create a lawyer-client relationship. Internet and online readers should not act upon
any of the information contained on this website without seeking professional
counsel. (
See Terms and Conditions).