Death entails the irreversible loss of those essential characteristics which are necessary to the existence of a living human person and, thus, the definition of death should be regarded as the irreversible loss of the capacity for consciousness, combined with irreversible loss of the capacity to breathe. This may be secondary to a wide range of underlying problems in the body, for example, cardiac arrest.

For people suffering cardiorespiratory arrest (including failed resuscitation), death can be diagnosed when a registered medical practitioner, or other appropriately trained and qualified individual, confirms the irreversible cessation of neurological (pupillary), cardiac and respiratory activity.



The purpose of this document is to provide guidance on verification of death. This task can be undertaken by all registered doctors and in situations were there is an organisational policy such as this, after appropriate training and assessment, it can also be undertaken by registered nurses (only where death is expected)


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: Paul Darling-Wills, Resuscitation Services Manager
Ratified by: Trust Board
Date Ratified: November 2016
Date Issued: November 2016
Review Date: November 2019
Target Audience: All staff
Contact name: Paul Darling-Wills, Resuscitation Services Manager


See also:

  • Resuscitation Policy