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Guidance on confirming death in infants is reviewed after court case

BMJ 2022; 378 doi: (Published 31 August 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;378:o2124
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

Guidelines for confirming death in very young babies are being reviewed amid concerns about a case in which a baby boy started to breathe after a diagnosis of brain stem death.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust applied to the High Court in June for a declaration that A, who was born in April, was dead and for authorisation to withdraw his ventilation, ancillary care, and treatment. Aged 2 months, he had sustained a profound hypoxic ischaemic brain injury after a cardiac arrest that happened shortly after he was found limp in his cot with abnormal breathing.

But before the case came to court a nurse observed him breathing spontaneously, and the trust rescinded the declaration of brain stem death. At a High Court hearing in July, Mr Justice Hayden appointed an independent expert, …

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