Best way to determine death has occurred?

  1. I know this probably seems like a dumb question... but my instructor said to know this specifically for the test & I can't find anything in my notes about it.

    It would apply mainly to hospice/ terminally ill patient type settings, if that makes a difference.

    Thanks for any feedback!
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    About mitchsmom

    Joined: Oct '03; Posts: 1,951; Likes: 94
    Lactation consultant, L&D RN, some postpartum
    Specialty: OB, lactation


  3. by   DSplendid
    Jeepers...I don't know what she is looking for...but we went over this once. Here is what I had

    Brain death - is diagnosed, when 3 EEG's are done and there is no brain activity

    Clinical death - is when respirations and electrical activity in the heart has stoped. (unless, your looking at PEA) Then I think the MD is envolved. Not to mention, there maybe quidelines, r/t drowining, hypothermia, time down, when CPR was started, how long CPR has been in progress, etc. I mean brain death occurs in 8 minutes with out oxygen. But, I never knew to be a definite answer.

    However, hospice, esp. in the field may be different. Now your dealing with terminal ill, DNR, comfort care....
    I don't know, be interesting to see if there is a def. answer.
    I'm assuming the same is respirations, no pulse.~
    Sorry couldn't be more useful
  4. by   Princess74
    We learned that it was when there was no brain waves, no respiration's and no heart beat for a 24 hour period. Seems too obvious, I know. Plus if it takes you 24 hours to realise that someone that is not breathing and has no heart rate is dead then well.............
    That was the answer on my test last week though.
  5. by   Boston-RN
    Dsplendid was correct....I had this same question come up last semester. Brainwaves / electrical impulses in hospital setting (24hrs)

    absence of resp / pulse in home environment
  6. by   mitchsmom
    I just took the test (it was online); the choices were auscultate apical pulse, cartid pulse, watch chest rise/rall respirations, and something else that I forgot but was out there... I put apical pulse, which I'm assuming is right... we can't see the test until everyone has taken it so I'll find out later. For the hospice setting, it wouldn't be EEG or anything like that which requires machinery.
    Thanks for the feedback!
  7. by   babynurselsa
    Pulseless, apneic, pupils fixed and dilated.