When it comes to health care law, few things are as confusing and difficult as the pronunciation of the death of a loved one who may be kept alive on a respirator or other life-prolonging machine. The Uniform Declaration of Death Act was penned in an effort to set a guideline for states to follow as they determine their own health care regulations for when a person should be considered legally dead. There are inconsistencies between when the brain function stops and the cessation of the heart and respiratory functions.
Florida has added to the UDDA with an additional regulation stating that two doctors are required for the determination of death to take place. One can be the treating physician and the other a board-eligible surgeon, neurosurgeon, neurologist, pediatrician, internist or anesthesiologist.
This determination of death can be particularly relevant when organs must be kept functioning after a brain death in order to harvest organs with the intention of donating them.
Similarly, in order for a homicide to be charged as such, a death has to be pronounced and nondebatable. Similarly, wrongful death lawsuits and other actions for survivors require a legal consideration of death.
Another reason for a UDDA standard is when considering Estate Law. Courts cannot open an estate unless the decedent is confirmed deceased. Also, if an individual is brain-dead, the family can receive life insurance.
Legal advice may be vitally useful when your loved one has functioning organs or is kept alive by machines but is brain-dead. A Florida health care attorney may be able to pursue a death ruling and enable you to proceed with estate administration or life insurance claims or any other actions that cannot commence until a death certificate is issued.