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