Background: Although resuscitation from cardiac arrest prevents more deaths from acute myocardial infarction (MI) than any other treatment, results have not been audited widely nor performance standards proposed.
Methods: The Myocardial Infarction National Audit Project (MINAP) uses electronic transmission of a 53-item dataset to a central cardiac audit database (CCAD). From October 2000 to August 2002, transmission by 218 hospitals of data from 55,906 cases of MI with 4934 attempted resuscitations from a first arrest, allowed for examination of factors determining survival, and for possible future measurement of success in resuscitation as a performance indicator. We investigated two possible indicators: (i) numbers of survivors from arrest in ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia (VF/VT) per 1000 cases of MI; and (ii) observed/expected (O/E) ratios for survival taking all VF/VT arrests rather than MI as the denominator, and adjusting for differing age structures and admission delays among individual hospitals.
Findings: Of the 4934 reported patients suffering a first arrest, 1778 (36%) survived to be discharged from hospital. The presenting rhythm was VF/VT in 2321 (47%) patients of whom 1461 (63%) survived. Survival for all 218 hospitals together had the relatively small 95% confidence limits of 26 (25-27) survivors from VF/VT per 1000 MI. However, the small numbers from individual hospitals made it impossible in most cases, whichever of the two indicators was used, to separate quality of performance and completeness of reporting from the factor of chance.
Interpretation: Audit of success in resuscitation is essential if performance in the treatment of MI is to be assessed. However, the relatively small numbers of arrests occurring in individual hospitals means that if year on year improvements are to be documented, audit must be carried out among groups of hospitals or on a national scale.