Prolonged resuscitation efforts for cardiac arrest patients who cannot be resuscitated at the scene: who is likely to benefit?

Ann Emerg Med. 1993 Nov;22(11):1659-63. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(05)81303-4.


Study objective: To determine who may benefit from prolonged resuscitation efforts after therapy by emergency medical services system (EMS) personnel has failed to restore vital signs.

Design: Retrospective chart review.

Type of participants: Two hundred sixteen consecutive adult patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest who were admitted to the emergency department without vital signs.

Methods: Identification of prehospital resuscitation data, therapy in the ED, hospital course, and final outcome.

Results: Thirty-nine patients (18.1%) were resuscitated successfully. The odds ratio of successful resuscitation in the ED for the patients with ventricular fibrillation at the scene versus those with asystole or electromechanical dissociation was 3.4 (95% confidence interval, 1.5, 7.9). All patients with asystole or electromechanical dissociation, either at the scene or in the ED, died (95% confidence interval, 0, 4.3).

Conclusion: Prolonged resuscitation efforts in the ED for patients with asystole or electromechanical dissociation usually are futile after previous efforts by the EMS personnel have failed to restore vital signs. Transportation to the hospital may not be indicated. However, for patients with persistent ventricular fibrillation, transport is indicated.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest / mortality
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Resuscitation*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate