brain death

Last reviewed 06/2020

Brainstem death is the point at which the brain has ceased to be capable of maintaining life. It is a concept which has developed from the advent of improved intensive care facilities and better resuscitation techniques.

Once reached, the patient may be considered for organ donation after consultation with the relatives.

Stages in the certifying of brainstem death include:

  • ensure certain pre-conditions - relating to the patient and to the staff involved
  • perform the diagnostic tests - two sets, usually within 24 hours depending upon the primary pathology and the course of the disease
  • record results - by hand and in the notes to avoid possible tampering