Author Affiliations: Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr Angus is also Contributing Editor, JAMA.
Defining a syndrome or disease in the absence of unambiguous clinical and pathological findings is a vexing yet essential challenge in medicine. Any proposed definition will be somewhat arbitrary and open to dispute. However, failure to agree on a definition will leave clinicians and researchers rudderless. Without a unified definition of a disease, it is difficult to conduct epidemiologic studies, to assess the benefits and harms of potential therapies, and ultimately to care for patients.
Angus DC. The Acute Respiratory Distress SyndromeWhat's in a Name?. JAMA. 2012;307(23):2542-2544. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.6761