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Neuroscience Journal
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 6017958, 7 pages
Research Article

Variability in Diagnosing Brain Death at an Academic Medical Center

Department of Neurology, University of Missouri, 5 Hospital Drive, CE 540, Columbia, MO 65211, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Christopher R. Newey

Received 9 November 2016; Accepted 13 February 2017; Published 2 March 2017

Academic Editor: Jesus Pastor

Copyright © 2017 Ashutosh Pandey et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. Research continues to highlight variability in hospital policy and documentation of brain death. The aim of our study was to characterize how strictly new guidelines of American Academy of Neurology (AAN) for death by neurological criteria were practiced in our hospital prior to appointment of neurointensivists. Method. This is a retrospective study of adults diagnosed as brain dead from 2011 to 2015. Descriptive statistics compared five categories: preclinical testing, neurological examination, apnea tests, ancillary test, and documentation of time of death. Strict adherence to AAN guidelines for brain death determination was determined. Result. 76 patients were included in this study. Preclinical prerequisites were fulfilled in 53.9% and complete neurological examinations were documented in 76.3%. Apnea test was completed in 39.5%. Ancillary test was completed in 29.8%. Accurate documentation of time of death occurred in 59.2%. Overall, strict adherence to current AAN guidelines for death by neurological criteria was correctly documented in 38.2%. Conclusion. Our study shows wide variability in diagnosing brain death. These findings led us to update our death by neurological criteria policy and increase awareness of brain death determination with the goal of improving our documentation following current AAN guidelines.