Trends Over Time in Drug Administration During Adult In-Hospital Cardiac Arrest

Crit Care Med. 2019 Feb;47(2):194-200. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000003506.


Objectives: Clinical providers have access to a number of pharmacologic agents during in-hospital cardiac arrest. Few studies have explored medication administration patterns during in-hospital cardiac arrest. Herein, we examine trends in use of pharmacologic interventions during in-hospital cardiac arrest both over time and with respect to the American Heart Association Advanced Cardiac Life Support guideline updates.

Design: Observational cohort study.

Setting: Hospitals contributing data to the American Heart Association Get With The Guidelines-Resuscitation database between 2001 and 2016.

Patients: Adult in-hospital cardiac arrest patients.

Interventions: The percentage of patients receiving epinephrine, vasopressin, amiodarone, lidocaine, atropine, bicarbonate, calcium, magnesium, and dextrose each year were calculated in patients with shockable and nonshockable initial rhythms. Hierarchical multivariable logistic regression was used to determine the annual adjusted odds of medication administration. An interrupted time series analysis was performed to assess change in atropine use after the 2010 American Heart Association guideline update.

Measurements and main results: A total of 268,031 index in-hospital cardiac arrests were included. As compared to 2001, the adjusted odds ratio of receiving each medication in 2016 were epinephrine (adjusted odds ratio, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.3-1.8), vasopressin (adjusted odds ratio, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1-2.1), amiodarone (adjusted odds ratio, 3.4; 95% CI, 2.9-4.0), lidocaine (adjusted odds ratio, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.2-0.2), atropine (adjusted odds ratio, 0.07; 95% CI, 0.06-0.08), bicarbonate (adjusted odds ratio, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.8-2.3), calcium (adjusted odds ratio, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.7-2.3), magnesium (adjusted odds ratio, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.9-2.7; p < 0.0001), and dextrose (adjusted odds ratio, 2.8; 95% CI, 2.3-3.4). Following the 2010 American Heart Association guideline update, there was a downward step change in the intercept and slope change in atropine use (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Prescribing patterns during in-hospital cardiac arrest have changed significantly over time. Changes to American Heart Association Advanced Cardiac Life Support guidelines have had a rapid and substantial effect on the use of a number of commonly used in-hospital cardiac arrest medications.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amiodarone / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Atropine / therapeutic use
  • Bicarbonates / therapeutic use
  • Calcium / therapeutic use
  • Epinephrine / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Glucose / therapeutic use
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data
  • Heart Arrest / drug therapy*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Lidocaine / therapeutic use
  • Logistic Models
  • Magnesium / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Vasopressins / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
  • Bicarbonates
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Vasopressins
  • Atropine
  • Lidocaine
  • Magnesium
  • Glucose
  • Amiodarone
  • Calcium
  • Epinephrine