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June 19, 1954


Author Affiliations

Washington, D. C.

From the Department of Surgery, George Washington University School of Medicine.

JAMA. 1954;155(8):709-712. doi:10.1001/jama.1954.03690260001001

Recent medical literature contains numerous accounts of cardiac standstill occurring during the induction of an anesthetic or while a surgical operation is in progress. Newspaper descriptions of this tragedy and treatment by massaging the heart have, in particular, made the public aware of this tragic complication. The terrifying possibility of the heart stopping has entered the minds of many who require surgical operations and in fact has caused patients to decline necessary and probably lifesaving procedures. It is of the highest importance that the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiac arrest be understood by the medical profession, but it is of equal importance to stress the relative infrequency of this complication when its incidence is compared with the enormous number of surgical operations done each year.

This does not imply the importance of cardiac arrest should be minimized, nor does it mean that the extensive educational program led by the

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