DOA is also frequently used as slang to indicate that a new item was received broken, or that an idea or concept has no chance.
(Note that the above list may not be a comprehensive picture of medical practice in all jurisdictions or conditions. For example, it may not represent the standard of care for patients with terminal diseases such as advanced cancer. In addition, jurisdictions such as Texas permit withdrawal of medical care from indigent patients who are deemed unlikely to recover.)
Regardless of the patient, pronouncement of death must always be made with absolute certainty and only after it has been determined that the patient is not a candidate for resuscitation. This type of decision is rather sensitive, and can be difficult to make.
Colloquially, anything which is received in a non-operational (broken) state can be called DOA or dead on arrival. If a new product, such as a computer, arrives "DOA" then it is likely that the recipient will call the supplier to get a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA), a transaction that acknowledges that (apparently defective) goods will be returned to the supplier for refund, replacement or credit. Sometimes it is difficult to actually detect a defective or DOA product. With computers, for instance, it might require a boot image to be installed and run through a test suite to detect any failed parts.
When, as with computers, product complexity is high and diagnostics are involved, the medical metaphor is perhaps appropriate, as complex diagnostics might be required to determine if the product "is really dead".
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