How can we medically tell whether or not someone is alive or dead? The answer is much more complicated than you’d think. In this episode, which is a live podcast I gave with Tony Breu at the Massachusetts Chapter of the American College of Physicians annual meeting on October 16, 2021, we track the evolution and controversies of the death exam, from a trans-Atlantic scandal surrounding a possible vivisection, a 19th century “X-prize” to determine a technology that could diagnose death, the important distinction between “permanent” and irreversible, and the mysterious Lazarus phenomenon.
- Rodman A, Breu A. The last breath: historical controversies surrounding determination of cardiopulmonary death. Chest. 2021; [online ahead of print August 13, 2021]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chest.2021.08.006