Best Practices for Education and Training of Resuscitation Teams for In-Hospital Cardiac Arrest

Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2021 Dec;14(12):e008587. doi: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.121.008587. Epub 2021 Nov 15.


Background: Survival outcomes following in-hospital cardiac arrest vary significantly across hospitals. Research suggests clinician education and training may play a role. We sought to identify best practices related to the education and training of resuscitation teams.

Methods: We conducted a descriptive qualitative analysis of semistructured interview data obtained from in-depth site visits conducted from 2016 to 2017 at 9 diverse hospitals within the American Heart Association "Get With The Guidelines" registry, selected based on in-hospital cardiac arrest survival performance (5 top-, 1 middle-, 3 low-performing). We assessed coded data related to education and training including systems learning, informal feedback and debrief, and formal learning through advanced cardiopulmonary life support and mock codes. Thematic analysis was used to identify best practices.

Results: In total, 129 interviews were conducted with a variety of hospital staff including nurses, chaplains, security guards, respiratory therapists, physicians, pharmacists, and administrators, yielding 78 hours and 29 minutes of interview time. Four themes related to training and education were identified: engagement, clear communication, consistency, and responsive leadership. Top-performing hospitals encouraged employee engagement with creative marketing of new programs and prioritizing hands-on learning over passive didactics. Clear communication was accomplished with debriefing, structured institutional review, and continual, frequent education for departments. Consistency was a cornerstone to culture change and was achieved with uniform policies for simulation practice as well as reinforced, routine practice (weekly, monthly, quarterly). Finally, top-performing hospitals had responsive leadership teams across multiple disciplines (nursing, respiratory therapy, pharmacy and medicine), who listened and adapted programs to fit the needs of their staff.

Conclusions: Among top-performing hospitals excelling in in-hospital cardiac arrest survival, we identified core elements for education and training of resuscitation teams. Developing tools to expand these areas for hospitals may improve in-hospital cardiac arrest outcomes.

Keywords: cardiac arrest; mock codes; qualitative research; resuscitation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Heart Arrest* / diagnosis
  • Heart Arrest* / therapy
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Resuscitation