A mathematical approach for establishing treatment priorities among patients

Joseph S. Pliskin, Clyde H. Beck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Medical decision making often utilizes subjective observations to arrive at concrete judgments. The decisions frequently affect who receives scarce medical treatments and, thus, who lives or dies. In this paper, a model health status index is described. It is specific for the problem of choosing patients for hemodialysis or transplantation. Such a health status index may be designed for any medical decision involving such issues as drug treatment priorities, identification of salvageable patients, and selection of patients for scarce medical treatment. This index (1) incorporates a physician's own medical criteria and values, (2) can be modified as the data base improves, (3) assures consistency from decision to decision, and (4) can be developed and used without the help of a mathematician or computer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-38
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 1980
Externally publishedYes


  • Health status index
  • Multi-attribute value functions
  • Scarce medical treatments
  • Treatment priorities


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