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April 6, 2005

Resurrecting Treatment Histories of Dead Patients—Reply

JAMA. 2005;293(13):1591-1592. doi:10.1001/jama.293.13.1592-a

In Reply: Drs Teno and Mor echo our point: that it is not possible to identify in advance patients who will die or to predict accurately when death will occur. If the reason investigators are studying decedents is to improve the quality of care rendered to dying patients, this unpredictability is the basis for our concern. Analyses of decedents are being misused to make inferences about the care delivered to terminally ill patients because decedents would not have necessarily been considered to be terminally ill.

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