Very few decisions affect patients and their families as significantly as the determination of brain death. Besides the obvious need to make an accurate diagnosis, it is also imperative that the process be carried out proficiently and in a timely manner. Prolonging the process unnecessarily or giving inaccurate information can result in undue grief for patients’ families and can delay the process of organ donation. Clinicians must therefore be knowledgeable about making a diagnosis of brain death. Because the process requires a multidisciplinary approach, the best outcomes will be achieved when all members of the healthcare team are aware of the criteria being used to make the diagnosis.

Many excellent articles have been written about the diagnosis of brain death.1–,9 These reviews present standards used in making a determination of brain death and highlight potential sources...

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