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December 1972

Measuring the Effectiveness of Medical Decisions

Author Affiliations

Waltham, Mass

Arch Surg. 1972;105(6):972. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1972.04180120147028

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A number of operations researchers have written books describing the concepts and techniques of this discipline to other operations researchers. This book is a happy exception and thus fulfills a basic need. It is written for the benefit of the medical professionals; the examples and the terminology employed are geared to the specific needs of these professionals (except in chapter six, where the derivation of an important effectiveness measure seems to be motivated by the results in physics). The authors have examined the general medical decision problem in the light of statistical decision theory and have emphasized the need for creating measures of effectiveness. Furthermore, they have developed a quantitative measure to determine the worth of a human life. This measure depends on the notion of "utility" of additional years of life as a function of the patient's age.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part (chapters

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