The World Health Organisation (WHO) has begun to develop a global consensus on when and how death is diagnosed across the world.
They arrived at the decision after doctors proposed an international agreement on how death is diagnosed which they say will prevent rare occasions when people are pronounced dead but later found to be alive.
They made this known at a European meeting of anaesthetists which gathered together representatives of prominent doctors around the world.
In the majority of cases in hospitals, people are pronounced dead only after doctors have examined their heart, lungs and responsiveness, determining there is no longer any heart and breath sounds and no obvious reaction to the outside world.
One of the participants, Dr Alex Manara, a consultant anaesthetist at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, UK, called for internationally agreed guidelines to ensure doctors observe the body for five minutes, in order not to miss anyone whose heart and lungs spontaneously recover.
He lamented that on some occasions doctors do not observe the body long enough before someone is declared dead.