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Doctor wants death diagnosis change


A doctor is calling for worldwide consensus on how death is diagnosed because of improvements in medical science.

Dr Alex Manara, a consultant anaesthetist at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, will use a European meeting of anaesthetists to ask for research into rare instances of people being pronounced dead but actually being still alive. He believes technological improvements are clouding the line between life and death.

People are usually said to be dead when doctors fail to detect heart and breath sounds or any reactions to what is going on around them, but Dr Manara points to more than 30 cases of people who have lived after they were thought to be dead.

He wants to see a new method of determining when a person has died as he believes that doctors often don’t examine bodies for long enough before declaring them dead.

Dr Manara will tell the European Society for Anaesthesiology that he thinks all doctors around the world should be advised to check bodies for five minutes to give time for rare occurrences of spontaneous recovery to happen.

Five minutes is the time recommended for doctors in the UK and Canada, but some medical professionals in the US and Australia are only told to wait for two minutes before determining death.

Doctors in Italy are told to wait as long as 20 minutes before concluding that patients have died, including cases where patients wish to donate their organs.


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Readers' comments (2)

  • i sometimes feel that some practice is unsafe but do not feel comfortable about speaking out due to backlass and isolation from others. It is still not what you know but who you know, and despite all the bad press nurses get i still love my job as i fought hard to get where i am, but i would love to be one of those that speak out without a second thought, i just do not feel safe in the political environment the NHS is at this time, which i think is a real shame, as at the end of the day it is the poor patients that suffer.

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  • with reference to the above comment, it is a ridiculous situation when people cannot share their professional opinions to inform the safety and quality of patient care and it is time this attitude changed. what is the point of qualifying in a profession in this case?

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