Withholding and termination of resuscitation of adult cardiopulmonary arrest secondary to trauma: resource document to the joint NAEMSP-ACSCOT position statements

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2013 Sep;75(3):459-67. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31829cfaea.


In the setting of traumatic cardiopulmonary arrest, protocols that direct emergency medical service (EMS) providers to withhold or terminate resuscitation, when clinically indicated, have the potential to decrease unnecessary use of warning lights and sirens and save valuable public health resources. Protocols to withhold resuscitation should be based on the determination that there are no obvious signs of life, the injuries are obviously incompatible with life, there is evidence of prolonged arrest, and there is a lack of organized electrocardiographic activity. Termination of resuscitation is indicated when there are no signs of life and no return of spontaneous circulation despite appropriate field EMS treatment that includes minimally interrupted cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Further research is needed to determine the appropriate duration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation before termination of resuscitation and the proper role of direct medical oversight in termination of resuscitation protocols. This article is the resource document to the position statements, jointly endorsed by the National Association of EMS Physicians and the American College of Surgeons' Committee on Trauma, on withholding and termination of resuscitation in traumatic cardiopulmonary arrest.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulances
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Electrocardiography
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Heart Arrest / etiology
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Resuscitation Orders*
  • Thoracotomy
  • Vital Signs
  • Withholding Treatment* / economics
  • Withholding Treatment* / standards
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*