SCIENCE AND SOCIETY: Current controversies in brain death determination

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| Although the concept of brain death is accepted by the majority of physicians, lawyers, ethicists and society at large, controversies about determination of death by neurological criteria persist, and often reach the public eye. In this article, we examine four prominent controversial brain death cases from 2013-2016. We review current controversies, including protocol variability, recognition of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) criteria for brain death as an accepted medical standard, and management of objections to discontinuation of organ support after determination of brain death. Brain death remains conceptually and legally valid, and it is vital that these issues are solved. We argue that medical societies and governmental regulatory bodies must support the AAN criteria in order to decrease protocol variability, and must fully endorse the validity of these criteria as accepted medical standards.

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