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Editorials |

The Determination of Death

JOANNE LYNN, M. D.
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George Washington University, Washington, D.C.


Ann Intern Med. 1983;99(2):264-266. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-99-2-264
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This excerpt has been provided in the absence of an abstract.

All living things will die. One would think there would have been enough experience of the phenomenon to make clear what marks the change from being alive to being dead. But the wealth of experience also serves to uncover numerous difficult cases in which our ordinary perceptions and imprecise categories are challenged. The article by Youngner and Bartlett (1) in this issue continues the ancient inquiry into the nature of life and death.

Large numbers of difficult cases arose in the past few decades along with the technological ability to mechanically ventilate patients who could not otherwise breathe. Until now,

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