This special issue contents : a report of physicians’ beliefs about physician-assisted suicide: a national study ; respecting autonomy and promoting the patient’s good in the setting of serious terminal and concurrent mental illness ; after-death functions of cell death; selective neuronal death in neurodegenerative diseases: the ongoing mystery ; practice variability in determination of death by neurologic criteria for adult patients ; mortal responsibilities: bioethics and medical-assisted dying ; anticipation, accompaniment, and a good death in perinatal care ; pros and cons of physician aid in dying ; brain death criteria: medical dogma and outliers ; dying well-informed: the need for better clinical education surrounding facilitating end-of-life conversations ; looking back at withdrawal of life-support law and policy to see what lies ahead for medical aid-in-dying.
Despite the popularity, success, and growth of programs of organ donation after the circulatory determination of death (DCDD), a long-standing controversy persists over whether the organ donor is truly dead at the moment physicians declare death, usually following five minutes of circulatory and respiratory arrest. Advocates of the prevailing death determination standard claim that the donor is dead when declared because of permanent cessation of respiration and circulation. Critics of this standard argue that while the cessation of respiration and circulation may be permanent, it may not be irreversible at the moment death is declared because, if cardiopulmonary resuscitation were performed, it might succeed. And because irreversibility of cessation of respiration and circulation is required by both the statute and the biological concept of death, the donor must be alive. Who is correct?
Making two related distinctions clarifies the cause of the disagreement over whether the DCDD donor is dead and points to a possible resolution. First, in a determination of death, there is an important distinction between the permanent and the irreversible cessation of circulation and respiration—two associated phenomena that are often confounded. Second, there is an important distinction between the medical practice standard for death determination, in which physicians certify the permanent cessation of vital functions as sufficient for death declaration, and the underlying biological concept of death that requires the irreversible cessation of vital functions because death, by definition, is an irreversible event.
Ce numéro comprend les articles suivants : brain death at fifty: exploring consensus, controversy, and contexts ; would a reasonable person now accept the 1968 Harvard brain death report? A short history of brain death ; a path not taken: beecher, brain death, and the aims of medicine ; Beecher dépassé: fifty years of determining death, legally ; a conceptual justification for brain death ; brain death: a conclusion in search of a justification ; conceptual issues in DCDD donor death determination ; DCDD ddonors are not dead ; uncontrolled DCD: when should we stop trying to save the patient and focus on saving the organs? ; a defense of the dead donor rule ; the dead donor rule as policy indoctrination ; the public's right to accurate and transparent information about brain death and organ transplantation ; brain death and the law: hard cases and legal challenges ; rethinking brain death as a legal fiction: is the terminology the problem? ; respecting choice in definitions of death ; imposing death: religious witness on brain death ; death: an evolving, normative concept ; lessons from the case of Jahi McMath ; the case of Jahi McMath: a neurologist's view ; revisiting death: implicit bias and the case of Jahi MMath.
The organ transplantation enterprise is morally flawed. "Brain-dead" donors are the primary source of solid vital organs, and the transplantation enterprise emphasizes that such donors are dead before organs are removed-or in other words that the dead donor rule is followed. However, individuals meeting standard diagnostic criteria for brain death-unresponsiveness, brainstem areflexia, and apnea-are still living, from a physiological perspective. Therefore, removing vital organs from a heart-beating, mechanically ventilated donor is lethal. But neither donors nor surrogates nor the public in general are typically informed of this obviously relevant information. Therefore, donors or surrogates do not provide valid consent for a lethal medical procedure. This is a serious moral failing on the part of the transplant community. To address this concern, I advocate for accurate and fully transparent communication of information to the public to allow for an informed civic dialogue about the ethics and legality of lethal organ procurement. Furthermore, I advocate that systems be put in place by the transplant community to allow for valid consent for lethal organ procurement.
When The Ad Hoc Committee of Harvard Medical School to Examine the Definition of Brain Death began meeting in 1967, I was a graduate student, with committee member Ralph Potter and committee chair Henry Beecher as my mentors. The question of when to stop life support on a severely compromised patient was not clearly differentiated from the question of when someone was dead. A serious clinical problem arose when physicians realized that a patient's condition was hopeless but life support perpetuated body function. Thus, the committee stated that its first purpose was to deal with the burdens on patients and families as well as on hospitals and on patients needing hospital beds occupied by comatose patients. They intuited the strategy of "defining" these patients as dead, thus legitimating treatment stoppage. They noted that this would also serve a second purpose. Although the dead donor rule had not yet been clearly articulated, they claimed that defining patients as dead would also address controversy over obtaining organs for transplant. My mentors' discussions related to my interest in the intersection between questions primarily of medical fact (When has a human brain irreversibly ceased functioning?) and nonmedical questions of social policy (Should we treat individuals with dead brains and beating hearts as dead humans?). It quickly became clear that most committee members did not appreciate the interplay of these questions.
The determination of death by neurological criteria-"brain death"-has long been legally established as death in all U.S. jurisdictions. Moreover, the consequences of determining brain death have been clear. Except for organ donation and in a few rare and narrow cases, clinicians withdraw physiological support shortly after determining brain death. Until recently, there has been almost zero action in U.S. legislatures, courts, or agencies either to eliminate or to change the legal status of brain death. Despite ongoing academic debates, the law concerning brain death has remained stable for decades. However, since the Jahi McMath case in 2013, this legal certainty has been increasingly challenged. Over the past five years, more families have been emboldened to translate their concerns into legal claims challenging traditional brain death rules. While novel, these claims are not frivolous. Therefore, it is important to understand them so that we can address them most effectively.
From the start, I followed the case of Jahi McMath with great interest. In December 2013, she clearly fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for brain death. As a neurologist with a special interest in chronic brain death, I was not surprised that, after she was flown to New Jersey, where she became statutorily resurrected and was treated as a comatose patient, Jahi's condition quickly improved. In 2014, her family reported that she sometimes responded to simple motor commands. I shared the general skepticism regarding these reports, assuming that the family was in denial and was misinterpreting spinal myoclonus (a rapid, involuntary twitch generated by the spinal cord) as volitional. The family had noticed that when Jahi's heart rate was above eighty beats per minute, she was more likely to respond, as though the heart rate reflected some sort of inner level of arousal. So they began to make video recordings. I have been privileged to be entrusted with copies of these recordings, forty-eight of which proved suitable for assessing alleged responsiveness. All have been certified by a forensic video expert as unaltered. The first thing that struck me was that the great majority of the alleged responses were not spinal myoclonus. In fact, they did not resemble any type of spontaneous, involuntary movement described in patients paralyzed from high spinal cord lesions.
Since the 1960s, organ procurement policies have relied on the boundary of death-advertised as though it were a factual, value-free, and unobjectionable event-to foster organ donation while minimizing controversy. Death determination, however, involves both discoveries of facts and events and decisions about their meaning (whether the facts and events are relevant to establish a vital status), the latter being subjected to legitimate disagreements requiring deliberation. By revisiting the historical origin of the dead donor rule, including some events that took place in France prior to the report by the Ad Hoc Committee of the Harvard Medical School to Examine the Definition of Brain Death, I want to recall that those who first promoted the DDR did not take into account any scientific rationale to support the new proposed criteria to determine death. Rather, through a process of factual re-semantization, they authorized themselves to decide about the meaning of death in order to implicitly prioritize the interests of organ recipients over those of dying people.
Frailty is a complex age-related clinical condition characterised by a decline in physiological capacity across several organ systems, with a resultant increased susceptibility to stressors. Because of the heterogeneity of frailty in clinical presentation, it is important to have effective strategies for the delivery of care that range across the continuum of frailty severity. In clinical practice, we should do what works, starting with frailty screening, case identification, and management of frailty. This process is unarguably difficult given the absence of an adequate evidence base for individual and health-system interventions to manage frailty. We advocate change towards individually tailored interventions that preserve an individual's independence, physical function, and cognition. This change can be addressed by promoting the recognition of frailty, furthering advancements in evidence-based treatment options, and identifying cost-effective care delivery strategies.
I explore the complexities of moral experience during the phase of life after a terminal diagnosis by examining the experiences of one woman living as a hospice patient in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. Introducing the notion of “existential ambivalence,” I show that this can be a period of deep uncertainty, in which what matters to individuals can shift and fluctuate through time, not necessarily lining up with collective ideals of “the good death.” I focus on a promise this woman made that continued to pull her toward a version of living well while she was also pulled toward dying.
Jahi McMath's case has raised challenging uncertainties about one of the most profound existential questions that we can ask: how do we know whether someone is alive or dead? The case is striking in at least two ways. First, how can it be that a person diagnosed as dead by qualified physicians continued to live, at least in a biological sense, more than four years after a death certificate was issued? Second, the diagnosis of brain death has been considered irreversible; in fact, there has never been a case of a person correctly diagnosed as brain-dead who improved to the point that the person no longer fulfilled the diagnostic criteria. If the neurologist Alan Shewmon is correct that, prior to her cardiac arrest in June 2018, McMath no longer met the criteria for brain death and was actually in a minimally conscious state, this case could have momentous implications for how we think about this diagnosis going forward. In this essay, I will offer a hypothesis that could, perhaps, explain both these aspects of the case. The hypothesis is based on differences in how we distinguish between biological and legal categories. The law tends to prefer to draw bright-line distinctions between categories, whereas biological categories tend to fall along a spectrum, without sharp distinctions.
PURPOSE: To analyze the concept of "Death anxiety" (00147) and to propose modifications in the components of this diagnosis in Taxonomy II of NANDA-I.
METHODS: A conceptual analysis was developed based on the eight steps proposed by Walker and Avant.
FINDINGS: Twenty-six articles were included from a search in four databases. Three defining attributes, nine antecedents, and two consequent ones were identified from concept analysis.
CONCLUSIONS: Conceptual analysis made possible the clarification of this diagnosis and the proposition of modifications in its components, which could provide a diagnostic accuracy.
IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Clarification of the diagnosis will allow the accurate identification of this phenomenon in clinical practice and, consequently, more appropriate nursing interventions.
Bone metastases represent a significant health care problem in the cancer population. The most common symptom for bone metastases is pain. Bone metastases may also cause pathologic fracture, spinal cord compression, cauda equina compression and serum calcium disorders. This review article summarizes the epidemiology, diagnostic modalities, role for radiation, and future directions as it pertains to bone metastases. Radiotherapy is an effective and standard modality for the treatment of painful complicated and uncomplicated bony metastases. Further strategies are needed to optimize pain relief, quality of life and survival in the bone metastases cancer population.
BACKGROUND: The objective of the study was to assess perinatal grief experienced after continuing pregnancy and comfort care in women diagnosed with lethal fetal condition compared with termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly (TOPFA).
METHODS: This was a retrospective observational study which included women who chose to continue their pregnancy after the diagnosis of lethal fetal condition with comfort care support at birth at the Prenatal Diagnosis Center of Rennes Hospital from January 2007 to January 2017. Women were matched with controls who underwent TOPFA for the same type of fetal anomaly, gestational age at diagnosis and year. Women were evaluated by a questionnaire including the Perinatal Grief Scale.
RESULTS: There were 28 patients in the continuing pregnancy group matched with 56 patients in the TOPFA group. Interval between fetal loss and completion of questionnaire was 6±3 years. Perinatal grief score was similar at 61±22 vs 58±18 (p = 0.729) in the continuing pregnancy and TOPFA groups, respectively. Women in the TOPFA group expressed more guilt. The cesarean-section rate in the continuing pregnancy group was 25% .
CONCLUSION: Perinatal grief experienced by women opting for continuing pregnancy and comfort care after diagnosis of a potentially lethal fetal anomaly is not more severe than for those choosing TOPFA.
Termination of pregnancy after diagnosis of fetal anomaly (TOPFA) is a contested issue and stigma may negatively impact affected women's psychological reactions. This study examined the influence of perceived and internalized stigma on women's long-term adjustment to a TOPFA. One hundred forty-eight women whose TOPFA dated back 1 to 7 years responded to self-report questionnaires. The associations between perceived stigma at the time of the TOPFA, current internalized stigma and symptoms of grief, trauma and depression were modeled using multiple linear regression. The proportion of participants reporting scores above the cutoffs on the respective scale was 17.6% for grief, 18.9% for posttraumatic stress, and 10.8% for depression. After controlling for time since the TOPFA, pre-TOPFA mental health and obstetric variables, higher levels of current internalized stigma were related to higher levels of grief, trauma, and depression. Mediation analyses suggested that the effect of perceived stigma at the time of the TOPFA on symptoms of grief and trauma was mediated by current internalized stigma, but the cross-sectional design limited causal interpretation of results. Internalized stigma is associated with long-term psychological distress following a TOPFA. Perceived stigma at the time of the TOPFA may contribute to increased trauma and grief symptomatology, but results need to be validated in longitudinal studies. Health care providers and public initiatives should aim at reducing stigma among affected women.
Whole brain failure constitutes the diagnostic criterion for death determination in most clinical settings across the globe. Yet the conceptual foundation for its adoption was slow to emerge, has evoked extensive scientific debate since inception, underwent policy revision, and remains contentious in praxis even today. Complications result from the need to relate a unitary construal of the death event with an adequate account of organismal integration and that of the human organism in particular. Advances in the neuroscience of higher human faculties, such as the self, personal identity, and consciousness, and dynamical philosophy of science accounts, however, are yielding a portrait of higher order global integration shared between body and brain. Such conceptual models of integration challenge a praxis relying exclusively on a neurological criterion for death.
BACKGROUND: Diagnostic criteria for prolonged grief have appeared in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( DSM-5; persistent complex bereavement disorder, PCBD) and in the ICD-11 (prolonged grief disorder, PGD), and the question of which diagnosis is most clinically useful has been hotly debated. This study provides the first longitudinal comparison of PCBD and PGD in their ability to capture symptom change over time and their relation to long-term outcomes.
METHODS: A community sample was recruited consisting of 282 individuals who had recently lost a spouse. Structured clinical interviews were conducted at 3, 14, and 25 months postloss for symptoms corresponding to PCBD and PGD criteria. Outcomes at 25 months included PCBD and PGD caseness, depression, global functioning, and interviewer ratings of participant suffering.
RESULTS: PCBD and PGD trajectories determined by growth mixture modeling, each captured three primary outcomes: resilience, moderate-improving symptoms, and prolonged-stable symptoms. The PGD solution also identified trajectories of increasing and decreasing distress: prolonged-worsening and acute-recovering symptoms. Prediction of 25-month outcomes indicated differences conforming to the severity of PGD symptoms, and the prolonged-worsening trajectory was associated with the worst adjustment.
CONCLUSIONS: PGD symptoms were more differentiated, better-captured psychopathology, and other outcomes and were more sensitive to change over time compared to PCBD.
Background: A distinct grief-specific disorder is included in the ICD-11. Lack of clarity remains regarding whether different proposed diagnostic criteria capture similar or different diagnostic entities. Our aim was to examine the specificity of four proposed diagnostic criteria-sets for pathological grief in a population-based sample.
Methods: Participants were 206 conjugally bereaved elderly Danes (59% female; mean age = 72.5 years, SD = 4.2; range 65–81) who completed self-report questionnaires six months post-loss. The main measure was the Danish version of Inventory of Complicated Grief-Revised.
Results: Results indicate substantial agreement between Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD), Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder (PCBD) and ICD-11-PGD (kappa's = 0.69–0.84), which found 6–9% of cases tested positive for pathological grief. Complicated Grief (CG) was partly in agreement with the three other symptom-diagnostic tests (kappa's = 0.13–0.20), and the prevalence-rate of pathological grief was 48%.
Limitations: The low response-rate of 39%. The selective inclusion of data >=6 months post-loss prevents a comparison of acute and prolonged grief reactions. Using self-reported data, not diagnostic interviews, challenges the validity of our findings. Using a sample of elderly people may limit the generalizability of our results to other age groups.
Conclusion: We suggest that PGD, PCBD and ICD-11-PGD may be more discriminative in identifying a specific grief-related psychopathology, while CG may identify a broader set of grief reactions.
Brain death has specific implications for organ donation with the potential for saving several lives. Awareness on maintenance of the brain dead has increased over the last decade with the progress in the field of transplant. The diagnosis of brain death is clinical and can be confirmed by apnea testing. Ancillary tests can be considered when the apnea test cannot be completed or is inconclusive. Reflexes of spinal origin may be present and should not be confused against the diagnosis of brain death. Adequate care for the donor targeting hemodynamic indices and lung protective ventilator strategies can improve graft quality for donation. Hormone supplementation using thyroxine, antidiuretic hormone, corticosteroid and insulin has shown to improve outcomes following transplant. India still ranks low compared to the rest of the world in deceased donation. The formation of organ sharing networks supported by state governments has shown a substantial increase in the numbers of deceased donors primarily by creating awareness and ensuring protocols in caring for the donor. This review describes the steps in the establishment of brain death and the management of the organ donor. Material for the review was collected through a Medline search, and the search terms included were brain death and organ donation.
Le diagnostic anténatal aboutit parfois à une décision d’interruption médicale de grossesse (IMG). Il s’agit d’une décision partagée par le corps médical et le couple concernant leur futur enfant, juridiquement reconnu comme fœtus tout au long de la grossesse. Les IMG pour indications fœtales ne peuvent être décidées qu’à l’issue d’un parcours de soins où patientes, couples et soignants se doivent d’aboutir à un projet d’avenir “digne et acceptable” pour l’enfant attendu.