The epidemiologist in the intensive care unit
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Clinical epidemiology involves answering questions about the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and burden of human diseases. There are many population-based studies on the incidence and outcome of cardiovascular, traumatic, infectious, and neoplastic diseases. In the United States the National Center for Health Statistics maintains data on the incidence and mortality of hundreds of diseases . Similarly, the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute maintains high-quality data on cancer incidence and survival from selected areas across the United States . Unfortunately, similar data are not readily available for the critical care syndromes, acute lung injury (ALI), sepsis, or multiple organ failure. There are good reasons for this lack of data—doing epidemiology in the ICU is hard.
Challenges to epidemiology in the ICU: studying a place in the hospital
The epidemiology of critical illness is based on looking for disease...
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