Sudden unexpected death is defined as occurring abruptly, from nonaccidental causes, in a patient who previously appeared to be in good health. It is a catastrophic event greatly affecting the immediate family, the physician, and the community. The scope of the problem is greater than generally realized, in that 10% of deaths among the general population are sudden and unexpected, as documented by Green et al in a recent issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine1. The victims are, by and large, young (mean age 45.1 years) and productive, with family and social dependents. Here is a largely ignored area for significant clinical investigation to which the family physician can make vital contributions.
There are at least two basic approaches. The first is to initiate the development of mobile emergency resuscitation teams to evaluate whether this modality will reduce the mortality of sudden catastrophic events. Some community-based cardiopulmonary resuscitation