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Increasing Pressure to Collect Organs for Donations Puts Mother Through Tragedy

Organ donation can relay one family’s tragedy into another family’s miracle. As some families of accident victims have attested, it can be meaningful for the family as well. Nevertheless, under the law, organ donation is a choice. When doctors are under pressure to collect organs for others’ use, the effects can be devastating– and may constitute medical malpractice.

A Mother and Daughter’s Decision Making Power Revoked

This March, a Florida court heard the story of a Chipley mother who lost her daughter in 2012. After the daughter’s long and harrowing battle with depression, she fired two gunshots into her own head. However, the injury left her unconscious but still alive, and she was transported to a hospital. When she made it to the hospital to see her daughter, her first sight was grisly– and suggestive of the strange procedures that were to follow. Her daughter’s head had not even been wrapped, the gunshot wound was fully visible, and there was a crowd of unwelcome strangers in the room. The doctors asked the girl’s mother to make the difficult decision of whether to take her off of life support.

As the mother considered one of the most difficult questions of her life, the doctors retracted their offer to take the girl off of life support. They stated that they were waiting on a second opinion. As alleged in her lawsuit, however, the Chipley woman now knows that they had already obtained a second opinion at that time.

Keeping Information from Patients

In reality, the doctors were waiting on an opinion, not from a doctor, but from organ recovery services. The doctors pressured the mother into offering her daughter’s body for organ donation, but the unresponsive patient had chosen not to register as a donor. The 20-year-old’s mother stuck to her daughter’s decision, and she was removed from life support– but not until her mother had to go through her daughter’s death for what felt like two or three times.

Sometimes it takes time after a tragedy before a family is ready to seek legal advice. Two or three months later, the Chipley mother was ready. With the assistance of counsel, she was able to demand her daughter’s medical records and discover, for certain, that key information was withheld from her, and her daughter’s body was preserved as they waited for the organ procurement surveyor to arrive. Now, her attorneys have filed suit against the hospital for several violations of HIPAA laws and organ donation protocol.

This is coming to light almost at the same time as two employees of an organ recovery agency stepped forward to report being attacked by their own administrator. The employees reported high tensions and increasing pressure to harvest more and more organs from potential organ donors. Increased transplants translate into increased prestige and, in turn, revenue for the medical centers.

If you believe that your medical care, or the medical care of a loved one, has been improperly affected by some doctor’s pressure to harvest organs, contact Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney Scott Newmark for a consultation on your rights.

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