Machine Medicine and Its Relation to the Fatally Ill

Howard P. Lewis, MD
JAMA. 1968;206(2):387-388. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03150020103049.
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The remarkable advance of medicine has brought immense benefits to man. At the same time it has created problems, strange and uncomfortable dimensions, in the spiritual, moral, ethical, and economic aspects of the care of the dying. We can restore life to some whose hearts have stopped. It is possible to resist the advance of certain fatal diseases for long periods. Malfunctioning organs are replaced with those that function, or devices are available to assist or take over their function. Drugs and mechanical devices can prolong the life of a dying person for long periods.

Many live and are active after having literally been brought from the dead by our resuscitative skills. Others live comfortably with artificial heart valves or implanted cardiac pacemakers. The artificial kidney, immunosuppressive agents, steroids, and cancer chemotherapeutic drugs, and a host of other agents are important and relatively new means of prolonging life and avoiding


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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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