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Diagnosing death using neurological criteria

An educational tool for healthcare professionals

These educational videos created by NHS Blood and Transplant cover diagnosing death using neurological criteria, and were made by filming mannequins and a real patient, with the support of UK national experts on the diagnosis.  

The content is based on A Code of Practice for the Diagnosis and Confirmation of Death (Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, 2008) and The diagnosis of death by neurological criteria in infants less than two months old (Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, 2015).

Profession-endorsed forms for making the diagnosis are available for:

We hope that this educational tool for healthcare will help to increase professional confidence, maintain the safety of the diagnosis and promote consistency in practice.

In keeping with both the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the terms 'brain death' and 'brainstem death' are not used in these videos. We would encourage all healthcare professionals to use the terms 'diagnosis of death using neurological criteria' or 'diagnosis death by neurological criteria' instead, and when talking to families, simply, the 'diagnosis of death'.

Please use the quick links provided to navigate to a specific video. 

1. Introduction to the diagnosis of death
2. Diagnosis of death using neurological criteria in adult patients: Introduction
3. Diagnosis of death using neurological criteria in adult patients: Preconditions
4. Diagnosis of death using neurological criteria in adult patients: Clinical tests
5. Ancillary or confirmatory testing for the diagnosis of death using neurological criteria
6. Considerations for the diagnosis of death by neurological criteria in infants less than 2 months old
7. Determination of death by neurological criteria for infants less than 2 months old
8. Determination of death by neurological criteria for infants older than 2 months to 17 years of age
9. Explaining the diagnosis of death using neurological criteria to families
10. Effective communication with families: Personal experiences from specialist nurses for organ donation 

Thanks and acknowledgements

Rob and Lin Williams

In honour and memory of Mr Robert Williams (1962-2017) whose family kindly agreed to this film knowing how passionate he was about teaching and helping others.

Through his legacy, the safety and dignity of 'Confirming Death using Neurological Criteria' is maintained.

Out of respect for Mr Williams and his family please do not modify this film in any way.