alexa Ethical dilemmaDiscontinuation of ventilation after brain stem deathTo whom is our duty of care?Policy should be balanced with concern for the familyBrain stem death defines death in law
Clinical Research

Clinical Research

Journal of Clinical Research & Bioethics

Author(s): J M A Swinburn, S M Ali, D J Banerjee, Z P Khan

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The concept of brain death is not often discussed in the public arena. According to the royal medical colleges in the United Kingdom and their faculties death of the brain stem is a component of brain death, and brain death is death.1 The criteria for brain stem death are well established,2 and their use in intensive care units enables treatment to be withdrawn from patients with brain stem death without recourse to the courts. Conversely, as a result of several high profile cases, persistent vegetative state has been reported on frequently in recent years. The application to the High Court in 1992 to discontinue life sustaining treatment for Tony Bland, who had been injured in the tragedy at Hillsborough football ground, brought the ethical debate to the front pages of the national press. Occasional stories of “miraculous recoveries” from comas are widely reported and may have led to an exaggeration of the small chances that patients have of recovering from a persistent vegetative state among a public that is increasingly well versed in this condition. This contrasts with the inevitable death from asystole which occurs within a few days for patients who are brain dead

This article was published in BMJ and referenced in Journal of Clinical Research & Bioethics

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