A “code” — the medical response to a person going into cardiopulmonary arrest — at once represents both the triumph and failure of modern medicine. Viewed from one angle, we see an impressively universal, uniform approach that rigorously applies life-saving techniques, allowing us to yank a patient back from the precipice thanks to teamwork and an extraordinary suite of technology. But there’s another side: the sheer, violent unexpectedness of a code. Pounding on someone’s chest and shocking them is not an expected outcome for just about any intervention – by definition, something has gone awry.
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