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Brain Death Examination

This is a self-paced, open-enrollment course that may be started and completed at any time. Please note: This course requires an updated browser to function properly. Requires Safari (v6 or higher), Chrome (v38 or higher), Internet Explorer (v11 or higher), or Firefox (v23 or higher). To check your current browser version, click here.

About This Course

In this course, learn about the process of making the determination of brain death in a patient, including the required components of the brain death examination, the reflexes to assess, and an explanation of the apnea test.

This course was developed by the OPENPediatrics program at Boston Children's Hospital, and provides Continuing Medical Education credit. To access the videos from this course for free, as well as hundreds of other resources on pediatric care, sign up for a free account on the OPENPediatrics site.


USD $25.00


David Urion, MD, Robert Tasker MB, BS, MD

Instructional Time

0 hours, 45 minutes

Course Format, Media and Technical Requirements

Self-paced, using text and video, with post-test assessments. Requires 80% or higher score to earn CME credit. Online course assessment. Requires Safari (v6 or higher), Chrome (v38 or higher), Internet Explorer (v11 or higher), or Firefox (v23 or higher).

Release/Review/Expiration Dates

  • Released: 8/21/2017
  • Reviewed: 8/21/2017
  • Expires: 8/21/2019
  • Learning Objectives

  • Identify the general components of the nervous system that are assessed during brain death examination
  • List the criteria that a patient must meet before the exam is performed
  • Describe the tests used to investigate coma and brainstem responses
  • Describe how to perform an apnea test and interpret the results
  • List some ancillary tests used in the determination of brain death
  • Statement of Need/Target Audience

    Several brain death guidelines throughout the world have specifically mentioned the specialty of the physician. Many have required a neurologist or a neurosurgeon. There is no certificate process, and that many be hard to justify and administer. The American Academy of Neurology states that ‘it seems reasonable to require that all physicians making a determination of brain death be intimately familiar with brain death criteria and have a demonstrated competence in this complex examination.’1 Clearly proper training is required for these clinician’s performing brain death exams, apnea tests and ancillary tests.

  • Primary Care Physicians
  • Speciality Physicians
  • Pharmacists
  • Pharmacy Technicians
  • Physician Assistants
  • Advanced Practice Nurses
  • Registered Nurses
  • Registered Nurses in Speciality Areas
  • Licensed Practical Nurses
  • 1Wijdicks EF. Pitfalls and slip-ups in brain death determination. Neurol Res. 2013;35(2):169-73.

    Accreditation/Designation Statements

    Joint Accreditation

    In support of patient care, Boston Children's Hospital is accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for the healthcare team.


    Boston Children’s Hospital designates this live activity for a maximum of 0.75 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits ™. Physicians should claim only credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in this activity.


    Boston Children’s Hospital designates this activity for 0.75 contact hours for nurses. Nurse should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.


    Successful completion of this CME activity, which includes participation in the activity, with individual assessments of the participant and feedback to the participant, enables the participant to earn 0.75 ABP MOC Part 2 points in the American Board of Pediatrics'(ABP), American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) Maintenance of Certification program. It is the CME activity provider's responsibility to submit participant completion information to ACCME for the purpose of granting ABP, ABIM and ABA MOC credit.


    Dr. David Urion, MD

    Director of Education, Department of Neurology, Associate Professor of Neurology
    Boston Children's Hospital

    Dr. Robert Tasker, MB, BS, MD

    Director, Pediatric NeuroCritical Care Program, Senior Associate in Critical Care Medicine, Senior Associate in Neurology
    Boston Children's Hospital


    In accordance with the disclosure policy of Boston Children's Hospital and the standards set forth by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, course planners, speakers and content reviewers list below any relevant relationships they or their spouse/partner have to companies producing, marketing, re-selling or distributing health care goods or services consumed by or used on patients.

    Instructor Disclosures

    No disclosures to report:

    David Urion, MD, Robert Tasker, MB, BS, MD

    Content Reviewers

    No disclosures to report:

    Traci Wolbrink, MD, MPH, Robert Truog, MD, Lisa Pixley, RN, Greg Durkin, Crystal Tom, Lesley Niccolini

    The following planners, speakers, and content reviewers, on behalf of themselves and their spouse or partner, have reported relevant financial relationships with any entity producing, marketing, reselling, or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on patients:

    Jeffrey Burns, MD, MPH

    Commercial and Financial Support Disclosure

    This program receives no commercial support.

    Privacy Policy

    Access the Boston Children's Hospital CME Privacy Policy here.

    1. Course Number

    2. Classes Start

      Aug 21, 2017
    3. Classes End

      Aug 21, 2019