Objective: To evaluate the implementation of an out-of-hospital termination of resuscitation policy in an urban EMS setting.
Methods: A descriptive study characterizing the implementation of an out-of-hospital termination of resuscitation policy in the Chicago EMS system. It includes a retrospective telemetry record review analyzing the utilization and compliance with the policy. The newly implemented policy involved field termination of resuscitation for all nontraumatic, adult cardiac arrest victims presenting in asystole who were not responsive to a standard trial of resuscitation.
Results: Over the three-month study period, 228 resuscitations of adult, nontraumatic cardiac arrest victims were identified and submitted for review. The group of 142 cardiac arrest victims who presented in asystole and received resuscitative efforts were categorized into four groups. Group I included 34 cardiac arrests for which resuscitation was terminated in the field following policy criteria. Group II included eight cardiac arrests for which resuscitation was terminated but the patients did not meet criteria for termination of resuscitation. Group III included 84 cardiac arrests for which resuscitation was not terminated because the patients did not meet criteria for out-of-hospital termination. Group IV included 16 cardiac arrests for which resuscitative efforts were continued, although the patients met indications for field termination.
Conclusions: Field termination of resuscitation is practical in the setting of asystole unresponsive to aggressive resuscitative efforts. The implementation of such an out-of-hospital termination of resuscitation policy is complicated by many problems and is best accomplished by a gradual implementation process. Through this process all members of the EMS community can address practical and ethical issues and grow comfortable with the ongoing evolution of out-of-hospital therapy.