Declaring a patient brain dead is a complicated and serious proceedure. A complete, irreversible cessation of brain function, brain death is one of two ways to determine death.
But a new study has found that the policies for determining brain death are surprisingly inconsistent in the United States. The study shows that some hospitals have failed to adequately implement guidelines created to reduce errors.
‘Researchers reported significant differences among U.S. hospitals in how important parts of the brain death guidelines have been accepted.’
"This is truly one of those matters of life and death, and we want to make sure this is done right every single time," David Greer, a neurologist at the Yale University School of medicine and leader of the study, told NPR.
Greer previously helped write a set of guidelines for determining brain death in 2010. The guidelines has since been recommended to every hospital by the American Academy of Neurology.
Greer and his team analyzed the policies of 492 hospitals and health care systems across the U.S. The team found that most of them had adopted the guidelines. However the researchers reported significant differences in how important parts of the guide have been accepted.
Most importantly, they found many of the hospitals did not require a neurologist, neurosurgeon, or even a fully trained clinicain to make the call.
"In some hospitals they actually allowed for a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant to do it," Greer said.