Determination of Death / Informed Consent


Determination of Death / Informed Consent

After studying the course materials located onpage, answer the following:

  1. Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA):
    • How this law was created
    • Legal definition of death, describe
  2. Define dying within context of faith, basic principle about human life
  3. Bioethical Analysis of Pain Management – Pain Relief
  4. What is the difference between Pain and suffering? Explain
  5. Diagnosis / Prognosis: define both.
  6. Ordinary / Extraordinary means of life support. Explain the bioethical analysis.
  7. Killing or allowing to die? Define both and explain which one is ethically correct and why?
  8. Catholic declaration on life and death; give a summary of this document:
  9. What is free and informed consent from the Catholic perspective?
  10. Define Proxi, Surrogate
  11. Explain:
    • Advance Directives
    • Living Will
    • PoA / Durable PoA
    • DNR
  12. Read and summarize ERD paragraphs #: 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 55, 59, 61, 62.

Submission Instructions:

  • The paper is to be clear and concise and students will lose points for improper grammar, punctuation, and misspelling.
  • If references are used, please cite properly according to the current APA style. Refer to your syllabus for further detail or contact your instructor.

Determination of Death / Informed Consent


The determination of death is an important process that needs to be performed by a competent person.


The term “death” is defined as the loss of all functions of body and brain, including circulation, respiration and the heart.

Brain death refers to a complete loss of brain function which is manifested by:

  • Voluntary movement and spontaneous breathing;
  • Blood pressure (i.e., systolic blood pressure) greater than or equal to 90 mmHg;
  • Absence of reflexes (i.e., pupillary response). The absence of pupillary constriction indicates deep coma with no further evidence for consciousness such as eye opening or verbal response;
  • Absence of reflexes other than those listed above suggesting that these are not responses characteristic for deep coma but rather suggest some level of consciousness (i.e., tonicoclonic seizures).

Informed Consent

Informed consent is the process by which a person involved in a research project or treatment receives information about the nature and possible consequences of participation in that project or treatment. Informed consent means that you have been given enough information so that you can make an informed decision whether to participate or not.

Informed consent is different than permission, which implies permission granted by someone else (e.g., your parent). For example, if someone asks you what they should do next time they take their child swimming at the public pool, then this question does not require informed consent because there shouldn’t be any real risk involved for yourself as long as no one outside of yourself knows about it; however if someone asked “Would you like me to give my child swimming lessons?” then this would definitely require informed consent since there may be some risk involved with taking lessons from someone who has little training experience with children younger than 8 years old who weigh less than 40 pounds (18 kg).

Tissue and Organ Donation Program – Procedures for Determination of Death, Informed Consent and Red Cross Transportation to Recovery Site

The determination of death is an important process that needs to be performed by a competent person. The determination of death should be done by a physician, nurse or other trained health professional.

The following are required for the determination of death:

  • An appropriate examination;
  • Appropriate tests; and
  • A report from the attending physician on his/her findings (written in his/her own hand).


The identification of the deceased is of paramount importance. The identification of family members and other persons involved in the death should be made as soon as possible, but not later than 24 hours after death or until the body has been released by autopsy, whichever occurs first.

The person authorized to make decisions regarding disposition of remains should be identified on the death certificate. This person must sign this document in their own handwriting and provide an original signature (not a photocopy). If they cannot be located within 48 hours, they may be replaced by another individual who signs the death certificate at their place of business or residence; however, those persons needing additional time for identification will need permission from both local authorities and central government agencies before signing any documents related

to disposition or transportation of bodies at their locations outside South Africa (e.g., mortuary centres).

Laboratory Tests

In the absence of a clear cause of death, it may be necessary to perform additional tests. Laboratory tests are often used to help determine the cause of death or whether there is evidence of life after death. They include:

  • Blood tests for drugs and alcohol;
  • Blood tests for infectious diseases;
  • Urine tests for infectious diseases;
  • Liver function tests (liver enzymes, AST/ALT) ;

Kidney function tests (creatine kinase).

Oral and Written Postmortem Questions and Answers (PDF)

What is the definition of death?

Death is a state where there are no signs of life, including heart and lung function, consciousness and brain activity. Brain death occurs when all brain functions have ceased due to complete loss of brain tissue. Circulatory death may be caused by severe hypothermia or circulatory arrest following massive blood loss from hemorrhagic shock. In these cases, the body will not be able to support itself through its own systems (i.e., breathing).

What are the legal requirements for determining death?

In order for someone’s death certificate to be issued by a healthcare provider after an autopsy has been performed on them at their request, they must meet all three requirements listed below:

  • They must have had an autopsy performed within two hours after their death occurred;
  • The body must be completely intact; and
  • There should be no chance that this person could still live if given medical treatment today

The determination of death is an important process that needs to be performed by a competent person.

The determination of death is an important process that needs to be performed by a competent person. The diagnosis of death may be made on the basis of clinical signs and symptoms or on the basis of brain function.


Informed consent is a legal requirement for determining death and recovery of organs. If you are interested in donating your body or organs to science, please contact us at (619) 787-9800

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