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Life-Sustaining Therapies in Elderly Persons

Peter G. Tuteur, MD; Susan D. Tuteur, PhD
JAMA. 1990;264(16):2118. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450160088036.
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In a time of concern about limited health care resources, it is reasonable to question the efficacy of their use. Two studies in this issue of The Journal focus on life-sustaining therapies. When is their use appropriate?

Longstreth and colleagues1 look at out-of-hospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). They ask: Can the elderly benefit from this procedure? A review of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests treated by paramedics over a recent 5-year period in Seattle, Wash, reveals that 140 persons (10%) 70 years and older were resuscitated, admitted to a hospital, and discharged alive; of these, 112 went home. From these data, Longstreth et al conclude, "Elderly patients can benefit from attempted resuscitation of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest."

Also in this issue, Murphy and Matcher2 explore a way to understand how life-sustaining therapies benefit patients. In an attempt to be at once critical and objective, they propose a mathematical model that quantifies


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