A code of practice for the diagnosis and confirmation of death. AoRMC 2008

“Whilst dying is a process rather than an event, a definition of when the process reaches the point (death) at which a living human being ceases to exist is necessary to allow the confirmation of death without an unnecessary and potentially distressing delay.” Thus death is defined as: “The simultaneous and irreversible onset of apnoea and unconsciousness in the absence of the circulation.” In practice, this means that you have to be satisfied that the patient has no cardiac output, no breathing effort and no signs of brain function for a witnessed, minimum, 5 minutes. The time of death is the end of this 5 minute period.

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