Contrary to what many people think, the duty of a medical practitioner does not get over with treating patients only. There are other key areas that he or she needs to look into, for example, the diagnosis of death. Just in case of an unfortunate happening, it is the doctor who has make absolutely sure that the patient in question is dead and inform his or her loved ones. Whenever a person were to lose consciousness, the doctor examines the patient and then does the diagnosis , finding out whether the person is alive or not.
While everyone knows that end of life is inevitable , what a doctor does it make absolutely certain that a person is no more. In medical terminology, a person is declared dead when all the vital functions of the lungs, heart and brain stop. Scientifically speaking death occurs in two different stages, clinical and molecular death.
In the case of being declared clinically dead, sometimes life can persist in certain organs or cells of the body. The parts that are showing signs of life can sometimes also respond to thermal, electrical or chemical stimuli. The period of time that the remaining cells survive usually varies from person to person. When all the cells die , it is then declared as a molecular death.
While there are various causes for a person losing his life, broadly speaking a person is declared dead when his or her lungs, heart and brain stop functioning. There could be various other reasons for it such as drugs, infection, malnutrition, starvation, poisoning and injury, to mention only a few. There could also cases when a person suddenly passes away due to accidents or suicide or gets killed.
There are some clear cut signals that doctors look for when they are diagnosing whether a person is alive or not. One of the immediate signs is the lack of EEG rhythm. The ECG would also be flat and circulation would stop. The respiratory system will not be functioning and the person will not have any kind of sensation or reflexes. Cessation of movements may sometimes occur due to other reasons also such as epilepsy, electrocution and narcosis , to mention only a few with the absence of heart sounds. These conditions are therefore taken into consideration during the diagnosis. It is only when the doctor is sure about the total cessation of vital functions of the body.
There are other signs too that doctors look for whenever they are certifying that a person is no longer alive. The cooling of the body after a person passes away known scientifically as Algor Motris is one of the signs that is noted . Discoloration of the body that starts after a few hours a person has passed away is another sign that is noted. Similarly signs of decomposition and the stiffness of the body after death are all signs that doctors take note of whenever they are certifying a person is dead. It is only when they are absolutely sure about all these factors that they declare a person dead.