The care of the critically ill patient has improved markedly in the past two decades. The change reflects partly a more aggressive attitude toward therapy by physicians, partly the introduction of increasingly effective drugs for many conditions, and partly the availability of practical monitoring devices and resuscitation apparatus. A typical instance of the conjunction of new attitudes, drugs, and equipment is the modern intensive-care unit in any of its numerous variations.
This field, like most, changes rapidly. Therefore The Journal introduces in this issue, under the title Critical Care Medicine, the first item in a new section reviewing the latest concepts. Selected authors will cover the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of medical disasters, including shock (p 337), hypertensive crises, pulmonary embolization, and acute renal failure. The section will be limited to disorders responding principally to medical measures; disease states such as perforated viscera, which respond to surgical