Brain Death

(also known as Death by Neurological Criteria)

Regarding Brain Death Testing:

  • Brain death is legal death as determined by the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA).

  • All 50 states have enacted legislation accepting death by the following definition as defined by the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association: Death is the irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions OR irreversible cessation of all functions of the brain including the brain stem (Brain Death).

  • For those declared brain dead, legal time of death is upon pronouncement of brain death.

  • Brain death is final and finite; it is not in the same thing as persistent vegetative state. Controlled and extensive clinical exams occur to make the declaration.

  • Brain death is defined as the irreversible loss of function of the brain, including the brain stem.

  • The three cardinal findings in brain death are coma or unresponsiveness, absence of brain stem reflexes and apnea.

  • Coma or unresponsiveness means no cerebral motor response to pain in all extremities (e.g. nail-bed pressure and supraorbital pressure).

  • There has never been a documented case of recovery from brain death under circumstances where all confirmatory and clinical tests have been performed accurately.

Understanding Brain Death

What is brain death? Brain death happens when the brain has no oxygen or blood flow. Without oxygen or blood, the brain dies. There are two ways doctors determine if a patient is dead:

  • One is when the heart and lungs have stopped working.
  • The other is when the entire brain has stopped working.

The second is known as brain death or death by neurological criteria. A patient cannot recover from brain death.

About Brain Death - English Brain Death CA State Law UDDA - Uniform Determination of Death Act
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