Vol.1, No. 1 2012
Consciousness has long served as a criterion for death. Before the advent of advanced medical technology, when a person fell into an unconscious state a physician would simply check for a pulse and look for breathing. The lack of apparent circulation and consciousness meant a diagnosis of death. The invention of technology like the stethoscope followed by the EKG led to a more definitive definition of death. Further development in technology, namely the widespread use of advanced life support, led to newer understandings of death. Currently, there are three popular criterions for the definition of death that are debated by law makers, physicians and ethicists: cardiopulmonary arrest, whole brain death and higher brain death. The current standard in America and the proper definition of death is the irreversible cessation of the functions of the entire brain, more commonly referred to as whole brain death. Recently this widely accepted recognition of death has come under attack and a push has been made to make higher brain death, the irreversible loss of higher brain functions, the standard of care in our country. ...
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