[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
August 22, 1986

Resuscitation: How Do We Decide?

JAMA. 1986;256(8):1000. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380080045016

To the Editor.—  In their recent article, Charlson et al1 conclude that there has been too much emphasis in recent years on discussing with all patients how aggressive they want their care to be in the event of life-threatening illness. Such an effort is unrealistic, they state, and should perhaps be reserved for those patients showing a "steady deterioration" or "when death is imminent." The basis for this was the finding that mortality and morbidity rates were not significantly affected by the physicians' preference regarding aggressiveness of care.The literature has been deluged with articles advocating the opposite course. Indeed, there is a developing movement—both popular and professional—supporting the patient's right to know and decide issues of life and death. Court cases increasingly back such individual rights. Because it flies in the face of such overwhelming sentiment, the Cornell article would assume great importance if the study it reports