Immediate (proximate) and late (optimal) therapeutic goals for critically ill postoperative general surgical patients were based on the frequency distributions of cardiorespiratory data of the survivors immediately after resuscitation and in the late stage of shock, respectively. An algorithm was developed which expresses in quantitative terms the distance from observed values for each variable to both of these therapeutic goals. Further, composite indices were also made of related cardiorespiratory variables that reflect the important aspects of acute circulatory failure and its therapy; i.e., volume, flow, tissue perfusion, oxygen transport, and bodily response to stress. The therapeutic indices of nonsurvivors were found to have greater mean deficits than survivors (p < 0.05) during all but the middle stage of shock.
The therapeutic indices greatly aid in the organization and display of monitored cardiorespiratory variables by expressing the circulatory defects in easily understood indices that can be related to therapeutic interventions. Moreover, the interactions of the various aspects of cardiorespiratory function before and after therapy may be easily observed.