The American Academy of Neurology has issued new guidelines on the determination of brain death. The goal of the guidelines is to remove some of the guess work and variability among doctors in their procedure for declaring brain death, which previous research has found to be a problem, said guidelines co-author Dr. Panayiotis Varelas. (USA Today)
Under the Uniform Determination of Death Act, followed in 50 states with minor variations in NJ, NY, and CA, brain death occurs when a person permanently stops breathing, the heart stops beating and "all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem" cease. While no one disagreed with that description, a 2008 study that included 41 of the nation's top hospitals found widespread and worrisome variability in how doctors and hospitals were determining who met the criteria.