Pediatric Intensivist and Pediatric Neurologist Perspectives and Practices on
Death by Neurologic Criteria
Leslie Mataya, Lainie Friedman Ross, Ahmeneh Ghavam, and Erin Talati Paquette
Controversies surrounding the determination of death by neurologic criteria (DNC), also known as brain death, have become increasingly common over the last decade, occasionally leading to parental refusal of all or part of an evaluation or declaration of DNC. We performed a prospective, cross-sectional study of pediatric neurologists and intensivists who participate in professional listservs to ascertain perspectives and practices concerning the evaluation of DNC, specifically on obtaining permission for evaluations and managing refusals. Of the 334 respondents who had performed an evaluation for DNC, 35 percent reported they had experienced at least one parental refusal, and 64.4 percent reported that they did not seek permission to perform an evaluation. Pediatric neurologists, careproviders who had less experience doing evaluations, and careproviders who had experienced parental refusal of an evaluation were more likely to obtain permission from parents. Most (80.8 percent) of respondents reported that their institution had a DNC policy. We found variability in many aspects of DNC evaluations and declarations, as well as the handling of refusals. Lack of consistency may make it more difficult for careproviders and families. Greater understanding of parental refusal of DNC evaluation is essential to inform efforts to increase consistency.
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