Pre-hospital cardiac arrest: room for improvement

Resuscitation. 1995 Feb;29(1):47-54. doi: 10.1016/0300-9572(94)00818-z.


Objective: To audit the outcome from pre-hospital cardiac arrest managed by ambulance personnel, and to assess their proficiency by analysing the time to initiate basic and advanced cardiac life support, the compliance with national guidelines, and the overall success of resuscitation.

Design: A retrospective analysis of ambulance service report forms of pre-hospital cardiac arrests, where active resuscitation was attempted by ambulance personnel between October 1992 and May 1993.

Setting: The City of Salford.

Subjects: 100 consecutive patients who suffered cardiac arrest out-of-hospital and who were brought to the accident and emergency department of Hope Hospital alive, or with resuscitation still in progress.

Results: Only 4 of 100 patients were successfully resuscitated out of hospital, of whom 2 survived to leave hospital. Detailed analysis of pre-hospital performance was performed on 89 patients only, as 11 report forms were missing (no successful pre-hospital resuscitations in this 11). Ventricular fibrillation was the first recorded rhythm in 51.7%, but 85.7% were in asystole or electromechanical dissociation on arrival at hospital. No patient who was still in cardiac arrest on arrival at hospital was successfully resuscitated. 11 patients received 'bystander CPR'. The median time to basic life support was 6 min; the median call-to-response interval was 8 min; the median call-to-advanced cardiac life support interval was 21 min; the median on-scene time was 31 min (paramedics), or 15 min (technicians). The dose of drugs given by the intravenous route did not comply with the contemporary recommendations in 43.2%, and those doses given by the endotracheal route were inadequate in 37.9% of the cases. Endotracheal intubation was attempted in all paramedic resuscitations (91.4% success); intravenous access was attempted in 60.3% (91.7% success).

Conclusions: The survival from pre-hospital cardiac arrest in this community is worse than the national average. There is no single explanation for this. Better community CPR training, greater efficiency at the scene through additional personnel, and stricter compliance with national ACLS guidelines, facilitated by extended refresher training, are all required if outcome is to be improved.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Allied Health Personnel*
  • Ambulances
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest / mortality
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Life Support Care
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome