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June 18, 1982

Intensive Treatment for the Elderly

Author Affiliations

George Washington University Medical Center Washington, DC

JAMA. 1982;247(23):3185-3186. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320480013010

To the Editor.—  One important measure of a society is how it treats its elderly citizens. With the increasing average age of the US population, medical approaches toward the elderly are of growing concern. In the article by Campion et al entitled "Medical Intensive Care for the Elderly" (1981;246:2052) and the accompanying editorial "The Continuity Imperative" (1981;246:2065) by William Reichel, MD, a conclusion was made and emphasized that strikes at the very heart of the matter.Campion et al state that intensive care unit (ICU) physicians are less aggressive in treating older patients who are dying compared with younger patients. They based this statement on an examination of the ratios of mean total charges for surviving v dying patients among three different age groups. Elderly patients (older than 65 years) had lower ratios. Based on our clinical and research experience, we suspect that this conclusion might have been biased by