Out-of-hospital resuscitation preferences of emergency health care workers

Am J Emerg Med. 1993 May;11(3):221-4. doi: 10.1016/0735-6757(93)90129-y.


The objective of this study was to assess the personal preferences of emergency physicians, nurses, and medical technicians regarding their own potential out-of-hospital resuscitation. An anonymous multiitem survey instrument was used at a statewide emergency medicine educational conference. Emergency personnel who regularly treat out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients were enlisted to participate. Subjects picked the last intervention that they would wish for themselves in an optimally managed advanced cardiac life support (ACLS)-based resuscitation for ventricular fibrillation. One hundred millimeter visual analog scales were used to measure individual preferences for severe neurological disability or death. Hypothesis testing was by analysis of variance with Newman-Keuls, multiple regression with stepwise variable selection, and the chi 2 and binomial distributions. Of 185 survey instruments, 105 were returned completed by eligible subjects. There was little difference among the three occupational groups (P > .5), although older respondents favored shorter resuscitations (r = -.38; P = .002). Ten subjects did not want cardiopulmonary resuscitation started, and 65% wanted resuscitation stopped before the second dose of epinephrine. Only three subjects chose to undergo the entire ACLS sequence. Eighty-two percent of respondents preferred death to severe neurological disability. Emergency health care professionals have a unique personal awareness of issues surrounding out-of-hospital resuscitation. That a large majority would prefer death to severe disability and few would willingly undergo full resuscitation as currently practiced suggests that prevailing guidelines should be reevaluated.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Emergency Medical Technicians
  • Emergency Nursing
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Resuscitation / methods*