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Definition Of Death Notes

BCL Law Notes > Medical Law and Ethics Notes

This is an extract of our Definition Of Death document, which we sell as part of our Medical Law and Ethics Notes collection written by the top tier of University Of Oxford students.

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DEFINITION OF DEATH OPENING QUOTE a) Lamb - 'It is as wrong to treat the living as dead as it is to treat the dead as alive'

INTRODUCTION a) Chau & Herring - highlight a vast number of definitions, I'll explore some

LEGAL DEFINITION a) Airedale NHS Trust v Bland (HL)
- brain stem death = definition of legal and medical death
- LORD KEITH: 'in the eyes of the medical world and of the law a person is not clinically dead so long as the brain stem retains its function' b) Brain Stem Death Definition: Department of Health, A Code of Practice for the Diagnosis of Brain Stem Death outlines the three requirements, it must be concluded by 2 experts that: RSB (reversible, several, breath) i) The coma is not due to reversible causes, such as drug overdose ii) Several elements of brain stem have already been permanently iii)

destroyed; AND Patient is unable to breath spontaneously

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT i) Organ donation - at what point can we remove organs ii) Resources - should treatment and life-support machines be kept on for people in comas and/or permanent vegetative states?
iii) Delaying grievance process for the family iv) Inquests can rely on circumstances surrounding the moment of death to ascertain causes v) John Burgess (2010) - he suggests there should be a consistency between the point when life begins (so legal status of the foetus) and the point of death


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