Bioethics Blogs

“Organ Sustaining Treatment” – Better Language for Medicine after Death

Nevada is close to being the first U.S. state to amend the Uniform Determination of Death Act to more clearly specify the medical standards by which cessation of brain function must be measured.


The bill already passed the Assembly and is scheduled for a second Senate Health Committee hearing today, May 15.


One notable part of A.B. 424 is unique use of the term “organ-sustaining treatment.”  “Organ-sustaining treatment means a medical procedure or intervention that, after a person has been determined to be dead serves only to prolong the patient for survivability of a fetus or an anatomical gift.


While a patient might remain on mechanical ventilation after declaration of death, it would be wrong to describe that as “life-sustaining treatment,” since there is no “life.” In short, the same ICU medical intervention is best described as “LST” for a PVS patient but as “OST” after death.  

Nevada is close to being the first U.S. state to amend the Uniform Determination of Death Act to more clearly specify the medical standards by which cessation of brain function must be measured.


The bill already passed the Assembly and is scheduled for a second Senate Health Committee hearing today, May 15.


One notable part of A.B. 424 is unique use of the term “organ-sustaining treatment.”  “Organ-sustaining treatment means a medical procedure or intervention that, after a person has been determined to be dead serves only to prolong the patient for survivability of a fetus or an anatomical gift.


While a patient might remain on mechanical ventilation after declaration of death, it would be wrong to describe that as “life-sustaining treatment,” since there is no “life.” In short, the same ICU medical intervention is best described as “LST” for a PVS patient but as “OST” after death.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.