October 7, 1968

Machine Medicine and Its Relation to the Fatally Ill

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Internal Medicine, Oregon University Medical School, Portland.

JAMA. 1968;206(2):387-388. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03150020103049

The remarkable advance of medicine has brought immense benefits to man. At the same time it has created problems, strange and uncomfortable dimensions, in the spiritual, moral, ethical, and economic aspects of the care of the dying. We can restore life to some whose hearts have stopped. It is possible to resist the advance of certain fatal diseases for long periods. Malfunctioning organs are replaced with those that function, or devices are available to assist or take over their function. Drugs and mechanical devices can prolong the life of a dying person for long periods.

Many live and are active after having literally been brought from the dead by our resuscitative skills. Others live comfortably with artificial heart valves or implanted cardiac pacemakers. The artificial kidney, immunosuppressive agents, steroids, and cancer chemotherapeutic drugs, and a host of other agents are important and relatively new means of prolonging life and avoiding