Termination of resuscitation in the prehospital setting for adult patients suffering nontraumatic cardiac arrest. National Association of EMS Physicians Standards and Clinical Practice Committee

Prehosp Emerg Care. Apr-Jun 2000;4(2):190-5. doi: 10.1080/10903120090941498.


The National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) supports out-of-hospital termination of resuscitation for adult, nontraumatic cardiac arrest patients who have not responded to full resuscitative efforts. The following factors should be considered in establishing termination of resuscitation protocols: 1) Termination of resuscitation may be considered for any adult patient who suffers sudden cardiac death that is likely to be medical. 2) Unwitnessed cardiac arrest with delayed initiation of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) beyond 6 minutes and delayed defibrillation beyond 8 minutes has a poor prognosis. 3) In the absence of "do not resuscitate" or advanced directives, a full resuscitative effort including CPR, definitive airway management, medication administration, defibrillation if necessary, and at least 20 minutes of treatment following Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) guidelines should be performed prior to declaring the patient dead. 4) A patient whose rhythm changes to, or remains in, ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia should have continued resuscitative efforts. Patients in asystole or pulseless electrical activity should be strongly considered for out-of-hospital termination of resuscitation. 5) Logistic factors should be considered, such as collapse in a public place, family wishes, and safety of the crew and public. 6) Online medical direction should be established prior to termination of resuscitation. The decision to terminate efforts should be a consensus between the on-scene paramedic and the online physician. 7) The on-scene providers and family should have access to resources, such as clergy, crisis workers, and social workers. 8) Quality review is necessary to ensure appropriate application of the termination protocol, law enforcement notification, medical examiner or coroner involvement, and family counseling.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Resuscitation Orders*