It is perhaps the most difficult part of modern medicine when it comes to telling if a patient is brain dead or not. The brain dead policies are opened for debate, and it would seem that the definition itself on the subject varies from hospital to hospital.
According to the medical definition of brain death, a patient is declared brain dead when a certain event occurs that lead to the complete and irreversible loss of all brain functions. Among the lost brain functions are included those who are necessary to sustain life.
Although the definition of “brain death” varies from hospital to hospital, there is, in fact, an act, a document which details what brain dead really means and what steps a physician must take before declaring a patient brain dead.
According to the Uniform Determination of Death Act, there are two ways to determine if someone is brain dead. The first instances when a doctor can call brain death is when a patient’s brain loses all brain functions needed to sustain life. The other instance in which a doctor must call the time of death and deem the patient as being brain dead is when the patient loses circulatory and respiratory functions.
These two instances are very different by nature from the vegetative state, because, in this state, the patient is able to retain autonomic brain functions.
Presently, it has been determined that although there is a national guideline of brain death policies, hospitals from around the country have been slow in adopting the policies.
This conclusion has been reached by a team of scientists from the Yale University School of Medicine. All their findings have been put into a study, which they later published in the JAMA Neurology journal.
Jokingly, Davin Greer, the lead researcher for this project, declared that the hospital must enforce a brain death for dummies policies, in order to teach doctors when to declare a patient brain dead.
According to this study, although the interpretation of the subject varies from hospital to hospital, no patient was declared brain dead, even though he wasn’t. But Greer wants no room for mistakes and hopes that his team’s study will determine all the hospitals around the U.S. to adopt a uniform policy regarding brain death.
Greer also added that although no mistake was made when declaring someone brain dead, the guidelines still need to be adopted in order to make sure that physicians are 100 percent sure when they invoke brain death.