A future role for the pulmonary artery catheter?

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Either a moratorium prohibiting, or a prospective, randomized clinical trial on pulmonary artery catheter use has been proposed. Expert opinion regarding both this suggestion and on the therapeutic efficacy of interventions guided by pulmonary artery catheters in a variety of clinical settings has included (in my view incorrectly) physician prerogative and perceived threats to therapeutic freedom. The legitimate concerns of worsened patient outcome secondary to pulmonary artery catheter use and demonstrably inadequate intellectual preparation of practitioners and allied healthcare professionals, which may exacerbate these deficiencies, have also been discussed. The future of the pulmonary artery catheter is questioned; physicians must evaluate the available information and, more importantly, critique their current practice, before employing this technology.

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