Death is often referred to in two ways – the first when your heart stops beating and your lungs stop breathing, but also the irreversible cessation of all brain and brainstem function. Determining brain death is not simple, and these guidelines are here to help clear the air.
Since 1995, the American Academy of Neurology has provided guidelines on the determination of brain death, but different facilities still practice to different standards. Unfortunately, as this article finds out, several questions still remain difficult to answer when it comes to brain death, generally secondary to a lack of evidence.
At the end of the day, the article does say that the 1995 guidelines still hold up, and that ‘false positives’, such as complex spontaneous motor movements and triggering of the ventilator may still occur.
Even though the evidence is limited, the review does give some practical step by step guidelines on the determination of brain death – something to keep handy for quick reference if (unfortunately) needed. Brain death is a sad event in any case, but it does afford the opportunity for organ donation – the potential to save lives.
Read the article here, and then read more about organ donation for your country here at the Australian Donate Life website.