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Clinical and ethical perspectives on brain death

Authors Nair-Collins M

Received 27 June 2015

Accepted for publication 28 July 2015

Published 11 September 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 69—80

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/MB.S70369

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Bethany Spielman


Michael Nair-Collins

Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine, Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, FL, USA

Abstract: Death determined by neurological criteria, or brain death, is an accepted legal standard for death throughout much of the world. However, brain death has also been a source of controversy ever since its inception, and recently it has been subjected to increased scrutiny, both in academia and in the public domain. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the literature on brain death, with a focus on clinical and ethical perspectives on the topic. To provide context, the history and legal standards, pathophysiology, and clinical diagnostic standards for brain death are reviewed in this paper. Controversies regarding the diagnostic tests and pathophysiology of brain death, the validity of neurological criteria for death, the relationship between brain death and organ transplantation, and several recent legal cases involving brain death in the USA are also reviewed.

Keywords: brain death, total brain failure, death determined by neurological criteria, organ transplantation, dead donor rule, determination of death, organ donation

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