The concept and determination of death by neurological or cardio-circulatory criteria play a crucial role for medical practice, society, and the law. Academic debates on death determination have regained momentum, and recent cases involving the neurological determination of death (“brain death”) in the United States have sparked sustained public debate. The determination of death by neurological criterion (irreversible cessation of the whole brain or of the brain stem) is medically practiced in at least 80 countries. However, academic debates persist about the conceptual and scientific validity of death determined by neurological criterion. The cardio-circulatory criterion, which permits organ donation following cardio-circulatory arrest, has also recently been challenged. Given the presence of academic debates, several questions ensue about the responsible conduct of clinicians and scholars involved in clinical practices and academic research. This article identifies tension points for responsible practices in the domains of scholarship, clinical practice, and public discourse and formulates suggestions to stimulate further dialogue on responsible practices and to identify questions in need of further research.
Racine E, Jox RJ, Bernat JL, Dabrock P, Gardiner D, et al. (2015). Determination of Death: A Discussion on Responsible Scholarship, Clinical Practices, and Public Engagement. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 58(4), 444-465