The criteria for diagnosing cardiorespiratory death and brain death have been well established and accepted by the medical profession. Even though there are differences in how physicians may apply these criteria in individual cases and even though the standards may vary somewhat in different countries, there are no major disputes about the medical diagnosis itself.

The syndromes of permanent unconsciousness, in contrast, are much more variable than are those of brain death. The three major forms of the vegetative state—acute, degenerative, and congenital—are substantially different in terms of causes, type of brain damage, and length of time necessary to establish irreversibility. Thus, the criteria for a higherbrain formulation of death are far more complex and uncertain than are those for the whole-brain formulation of death.


SEE ALSO: Body: Cultural and Religious Perspectives; Conscience, Rights of; Consensus, Role and Authority of; Judaism, Bioethics in; Life; Metaphor and Analogy; Organ and Tissue Procurement; Public Policy and Bioethics; and other Death, Definition and Determination ofsubentries

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