Rules for judging when a patient is brain dead vary widely from hospital to hospital

Rules for judging when a patient is brain dead vary widely from hospital to hospital

A latest study has found that the rules to decide when a patient is brain dead differ widely from hospital to hospital, despite the availability of national standards formed to ensure accuracy.

Lead researcher Dr. David Greer, a professor of neurology at the Yale School of Medicine, in New Haven, Conn said that in 2010, the American Academy of Neurology followed a set of updated guidelines to judge whether a person has lost all brain function and has been kept alive only via hospital machinery.

Greer said that there were no legal reports of any patient ever being called out brain dead when there weren’t actually, however such judgments are required to be made with ‘100% certainty’.

Greer said that this was the reason why they wanted to provide a quite high level of accountability for this. Greer added that this was why they made the guidelines to be quite specific, so straightforward and cookbook.

Greer mentioned, “Basically, you might call it 'Brain Death For Dummies.' You should be able to take this checklist to the bedside, follow it point by point and be able to get through it”.

In a national review, Greer and colleagues found that hospitals have been slow in the brain death standards’ adoption in their policies.

The researchers reviewed 508 hospital policies about brain death, which represented hospitals and health systems in all 50 states. Greer said that physicians have to make 2 judgments to rule a person’s brain as dead. The study findings were published online on December 28 in the journal JAMA Neurology.