Death is defined by the cessation of all biological functions and is typically considered a suboptimal outcome. Patients often state their preference for ongoing life as opposed to death.
It can be very challenging to elicit symptoms in a patient who has suffered from death. In fact, many of these patients look peaceful and have no complaints. Collateral history is very useful here.
Vital signs can be very telling in a patient with death: temperature is room temperature or less, blood pressure is 0, heart rate is 0, respiratory rate is 0, and oxygen saturation is 0%. Physical exam can be very challenging due to the patient's lack of participation. One, however, may note in the moments preceding death a death rattle, death giggle, or both.
Imaging can help support the diagnosis of death. Pan-scanning provides the best use of resources.
However, just because a patient has died doesn't mean they are no longer a candidate for treatment. One of the most popular treatments after death is chemotherapy. For more information, see Postmortem Chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, there have been no breakthroughs with this condition and the global death rate remains constant at 100%.
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