Optimal Scene Time to Achieve Favorable Outcomes in Out-of-hospital Cardiac Arrest: How Long Is Too Long?

Cureus. 2018 Oct 9;10(10):e3434. doi: 10.7759/cureus.3434.


Background Despite advances in resuscitation science and public health, out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OOHCA) cases have an average survival rate of only 12% nationwide, compared to 24.8% of cases occurring in hospital. Many factors, including resuscitation interventions, contribute to positive patient outcomes and have, therefore, been studied in attempts to optimize emergency medical services (EMS) protocols to achieve higher rates of return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) in the field. However, no consensus has been met regarding the appropriate amount of time for EMS to spend on scene. Aim A favorable outcome is defined as patients that achieved the combination of ROSC and a final disposition of "ongoing resuscitation in the emergency department (ED)." The primary purpose of this preliminary study was to determine the scene time interval (STI) in which American urban EMS systems achieved the highest rates of favorable outcomes in non-traumatic OOHCAs. Methods All EMS-related data, including demographics, presenting rhythm, airway management, chemical interventions, and ROSC were recorded using a standardized EMS charting system by the highest-ranking EMS provider on the ambulance. The reports were retrospectively collected and analyzed. Conclusion Our data suggest that the optimal 20-minute STI for OOHCA patients in an urban EMS system is between 41 and 60 minutes. Interestingly, the 10-minute interval within the 41-60 minute cohort that provided the highest rate of ROSC was between 41 and 50 minutes. Generally, the longer the STI, the greater the percentage of favorable outcomes up to the 50-minute mark. Once past 50 minutes, a phenomenon of diminishing return was observed and the rates of favorable outcomes sharply declined. This suggests a possible "sweet spot" that may exist regarding the optimal scene time in a cardiac arrest encounter. Significant differences between the average number of interventions per patient were found, however, many confounding factors and the limited data set make the results difficult to generalize.

Keywords: advanced cardiac life support; cardiac arrest; cpr; defibrillation; emergency medicine; ems; miami; prehospital; rosc; scene time.