Thursday, November 01, 2007

Legal definition of “death” in the Philippines

The medical community, here and abroad, has used several criteria by which to determine whether a person is dead or alive. These are:

(1) Heart-lung death: the irreversible cessation of spontaneous respiration and circulation
(2) Whole-brain death: the irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, even if the heart and digestive systems are still functioning
(3) Higher-brain death: the irreversible cessation of all cognitive functions such as personality, consciousness, uniqueness, memory, judgment, reason, enjoyment, worry, etc.
How does Philippine law define “death”? Republic Act 7170 or the “Organ Donation Act of 1991” in Section 2, paragraph (j), defines death this way:

j) “Death” - the irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions or the irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem. A person shall be medically and legally dead if either:

(1) In the opinion of the attending physician, based on the acceptable standards of medical practice, there is an absence of national respiratory and cardiac functions and, attempts at resuscitation would not be successful in restoring those functions. In this case, death shall be deemed to have occurred at the time those functions ceased; or
(2) In the opinion of the consulting physician, concurred in by the attending physician, that on the basis of acceptable standards of medical practice, there is an irreversible cessation of all brain functions, and considering the absence of such functions, further attempts at resuscitation or continued supportive maintenance would not be successful in restoring such natural functions. In this case, death shall be deemed to have occurred at the time when these conditions first appeared.
The death of the person shall be determined in accordance with the acceptable medical practice and shall be diagnosed separately by the attending physician and another consulting physician, both of whom must be appropriately qualified and suitable experienced in the care of such patients. The death shall be recorded in the patient’s medical record.
For a related article on this topic, please surf to my Salt and Light weblog at www.-salt-and-light-.blogspot.com.

No comments :