Ward doctors in regular medical departments have to be competent in declaring the death of a patient.
The majority of literature on confirmation of death focuses on special circumstances, including intensive care patients and cases involving organ donation.
There is no consensus regarding the procedure and criteria for declaration of death in a ‘normal’ patient on a medical ward.
In this article we describe the death criteria, changes that occur in the body following death, and how death can be declared in in a ‘normal’ patient on a medical ward and in special circumstances.
Conflict of interest and financial support: none declared.