To the Editor.—
The publication of retrospective studies of causes of anesthetic contributory death, "Unexpected Cardiac Arrest During Anesthesia and Surgery," by Taylor, Larson, and Prestwich (236:2758, 1976) draws attention once again to the paucity of sound statistical mortality studies in this field.1In supporting the authors' plea for a cardiac arrest registry, I would make a plea that provision be made for assessing the background population of anesthetics from which the data come. Whatever advances are claimed for anesthesia, they can only be regarded as real advances if they result in an increased safety for the patient. Though a measure of this "safety" is difficult, one may postulate that the most fundamental index of the safety of anesthesia for the patient is the incidence with which factors related to the administration of an anesthetic may cause or contribute to a patient's death. Though surveys of this nature are
Harrison GG. Cardiac Arrest. JAMA. 1977;238(9):938–939. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280100022011
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