Cardiac arrest survival is rare without prehospital return of spontaneous circulation

Prehosp Emerg Care. 2012 Oct-Dec;16(4):451-5. doi: 10.3109/10903127.2012.695435. Epub 2012 Jul 26.


Background: Emergency medical services (EMS) are crucial in the management of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). Despite accepted termination-of-resuscitation criteria, many patients are transported to the hospital without achieving field return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC).

Objective: We examine field ROSC influence on OHCA survival to hospital discharge in two large urban EMS systems.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data was conducted. Data collection is a component of San Antonio Fire Department's comprehensive quality assurance/quality improvement program and Cincinnati Fire Department's participation in the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) project. Attempted resuscitations of medical OHCA and cardiac OHCA for San Antonio and Cincinnati, respectively, from 2008 to 2010 were analyzed by city and in aggregate.

Results: A total of 2,483 resuscitation attempts were evaluated. Age and gender distributions were similar between cities, but ethnic profiles differed. Cincinnati had 17% (p = 0.002) more patients with an initial shockable rhythm and was more likely to initiate transport before field ROSC. Overall survival to hospital discharge was 165 of 2,483 (6.6%). More than one-third (894 of 2,483, 36%) achieved field ROSC. Survival with field ROSC was 17.2% (154 of 894) and without field ROSC was 0.69% (11 of 1,589). Of the 11 survivors transported prior to field ROSC, nine received defibrillation by EMS. No asystolic patient survived to hospital discharge without field ROSC.

Conclusion: Survival to hospital discharge after OHCA is rare without field ROSC. Resuscitation efforts should focus on achieving field ROSC. Transport should be reserved for patients with field ROSC or a shockable rhythm.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Emergency Medical Services / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ohio
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest / mortality*
  • Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Texas
  • United States