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February 21, 1977

Respiratory Failure

JAMA. 1977;237(8):808. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270350068032

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Respiratory failure, defined as failure to maintain blood-gas homeostasis, is caused by collapse of one or more of the mechanisms that normally secure gas exchange between air and blood. To understand respiratory failure, one has to know which of the normal respiratory processes is altered or affected; nearly a third of the book is given to the physiology and mechanics of ventilation, gas exchange, and gas transport. The chief remedy for respiratory failure considered here is mechanical ventilation, and the authors provide a complete guide to this mode of therapy.

Since the pattern of failure varies with the cause, each medical specialty tends to develop its own therapeutic approach, dictated to a large extent by the immediacy of the process. Drugs and poisons may necessitate remedial action within minutes, whereas ventilatory changes in chronic pulmonary disease can be measured in days. This book attempts to bring these divergent outlooks into