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Nursing practice and the definition of human death.

This paper aims to highlight the gap in nursing literature of discussion of the definition of human death--to show that nurses should engage in such discussion. For the nursing role in the care of brain dead patients and their relatives may unwittingly promote and foster a definition of human death which is fundamentally flawed. A person can be warm, pink, have an independently beating heart and be breathing, yet still be diagnosed as brainstem dead. Nursing literature which discusses issues surrounding brain death (as opposed to brain death itself), proposes that nurses should suppress any reservations which they may have in accepting that a patient with the characteristics described is dead; and that they should try to allay any reservations which relatives of such dead patients might have.

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