Standards and Ethics Issues in the Determination of Death: A Position Paper From the American College of Physicians

American College of Physicians Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The determination of a patient’s death is of considerable medical and ethical significance. Death is a biological concept with social implications. Acting with honesty, transparency, respect, and integrity is critical to trust in the patient–physician relationship, and the profession, in life and in death. Over time, cases about the determination of death have raised questions that need to be addressed. This American College of Physicians position paper addresses current controversies and supports a clarification to the Uniform Determination of Death Act; maintaining the 2 current independent standards of determining death, cardiorespiratory and neurologic; retaining the whole brain death standard; aligning medical testing with the standards; keeping issues about the determination of death separate from organ transplantation; reaffirming the importance and role of the dead donor rule; and engaging in educational efforts for health professionals, patients, and the public on these issues. Physicians should advocate for policies and practices on the determination of death that are consistent with the profession’s fundamental and timeless commitment to individual patients and the public.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1245-1250
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Internal Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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