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Article |

Critical Decisions in Trauma

Robert J. Baker, MD
JAMA. 1985;253(5):695-696. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350290101044.
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I first encountered an intriguing textbook, very similar to this one, in 1980, when I reviewed Dr Eiseman's Prognosis of Surgical Disease. At that time, I was struck by the novel application of therapeutic algorithms, or "decision trees," on which that book was constructed. This work also is based on a series of more than 100 different algorithms, all of which deal with some segment of trauma care. The initial steps in dealing with the problem, the diagnostic maneuvers to assess the magnitude of trauma and arrive at a therapeutic decision, and prognosis are given visually in the algorithm, while the text, on the facing page, expands on each important step.

Although unconventional, the algorithms are a remarkably efficient way of delivering information. A hallmark of a reference text is that the available information be easily obtained, which the authors have achieved. Unfortunately, their technique precludes any display of literary


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