Resuscitation Research: Future Directions and Ethical Issues

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Cardiopulmonary resuscitation research is a vital area of research that has made significant contributions to medical care over the last several decades. Abundant information currently exists in the medical literature, as a result of research in the areas of cardiac arrest and outcomes, physiology of cardiac arrest, pharmacologic treatments, mechanical interventions, and societal and ethical issues. Despite numerous clinical trials demonstrating physiologic benefit of various interventions, few interventions have had as much impact on outcomes of cardiac arrest as have improvements in out-of-hospital response times and rapid availability of medical treatment. Although abundant information exists regarding physiologic aspects of resuscitation, relatively little information exists about ethical, psychological, and social aspects of resuscitation. In addition to attempts to improve outcomes of cardiac arrest, researchers should also strive to improve the experiences of patients and families involved. These realities provide future strategies and directions for the best use of resuscitation research resources; although physiologic and pharmacologic research will always have significant roles in the improvement of medical care, the rapid delivery of out-of-hospital care and ethical issues will be indispensable areas of research focus in the future.