Diagnosis of brain death in Brazil

ABSTRACT Brain death, defined as the complete and irreversible loss of brain functions, has a history that is linked to the emergence of intensive care units and the advancement of artificial ventilatory support. In Brazil, by federal law, the criteria for the diagnosis of brain death have been defined by the Federal Council of Medicine since 1997 and apply to the entire Brazilian territory. Resolution 2,173/2017 of the Federal Council of Medicine updated the criteria for diagnosing brain death. These changes include the following: the requirement for the patient to meet specific physiological prerequisites and for the physician to provide optimized care to the patient before starting the procedures for diagnosing brain death and to perform complementary tests, as well as the need for specific training for physicians who make this diagnosis. Other changes include the reduction of the time interval between the two clinical examinations, the possibility of continuing procedures in the presence of unilateral ear or eye injury, the performance of a single apnea test and the creation of a statement of brain death determination that includes the recording of all procedures in a single document. This document, despite the controversy surrounding it, increases the safety necessary when establishing a diagnosis of such importance and has positive implications that extend beyond the patient and the physician to reach the entire health system.

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