Buy this Article for $10.95

Have a coupon or promotional code? Enter it here:

When you buy this you'll get access to the ePub version, a downloadable PDF, and the ability to print the full article.


brain death, brain death confirmatory test, brain death examination,



  1. Jackson, Jennifer
  2. Willmarth-Stec, Melissa
  3. Shutter, Lori


ABSTRACT: Brain death (BD) is determined after a patient has sustained some form of a catastrophic neurologic injury that results in an irreversible loss of cerebral and brain steam function. Variability is caused by the small number of patients who progress to BD annually causing a lack of opportunity for physicians and healthcare staff to stay competent in performing the examination. Background: The current University of Cincinnati Medical Center policy on BD had not been updated since publication of the 2010 American Academy of Neurology guidelines on this subject. The diagnosis of BD in the medical community is an acceptable medical diagnosis, but the examination is difficult to perform, and explaining this diagnosis to a family can be challenging related to the emotions involved with discussing end of life. The goal of updating the current policy was to decrease variability in testing through consistency of practice among clinicians performing the examination. Methods: An integrative review of the evidence-based literature was conducted to identify articles discussing both BD confirmation and secondary confirmatory testing. Using this integrative review, results from hospital-based chart reviews, and targeted provider surveys, a policy update was completed. The bedside medical clinicians were provided this policy with evidence-based guidelines regarding performance of the clinical examination and confirmatory testing needed to diagnose BD and then communicate this diagnosis to the family. Results: The current hospital policy lacked two important components of any BD policy: (a) the apnea test techniques and (b) guidance regarding secondary confirmatory testing. Both components were added during revision of the policy. Implementation of the new policy occurred through computer-based training that incorporated both didactic education of the updates and a video demonstration of a BD examination. Discussion: A better defined policy for determining BD is essential. In addition, the implementation and quality assurance elements of the policy are necessary for efficiency and clinical decision making. By updating the policy within the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, the clinicians have been equipped with the latest evidence to perform the clinical examination for diagnosis of BD and then appropriately communicate this diagnosis to the family.