Implications of a recurrent in-hospital cardiac arrest on survival and neurological outcomes

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Despite the high incidence of in-hospital cardiac arrest (IHCA) in US hospitals, the prognosis and end-of-life decision-making patterns of a patient with a recurrent IHCA are unknown.


Within Get-With-The-Guidelines-Resuscitation, we identified 192,250 patients from 711 hospitals with an IHCA from 2000 to 2015. Patients were categorized as having no recurrent IHCA (only 1 event), recurrent IHCA (≥2 IHCAs), and recurrent out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA), defined as an IHCA after an OHCA. Using multivariable hierarchical logistic regression, rates of survival to discharge and favorable neurological survival (mild or no disability) between the 3 groups were compared. Rates of de novo “do not attempt resuscitation” (DNAR) and withdrawal of care orders among successfully resuscitated patients were also evaluated.


Overall, 165,446 (86.1%) had no recurrent IHCA, 23,643 (12.3%) had recurrent IHCA, and 3162 (1.6%) had recurrent OHCA. Compared with patients with no recurrent IHCA, patients with recurrent IHCA were less than half as likely to survive to discharge (12.7% vs 22.1%; adjusted OR: 0.46 [0.44-0.48], P < .001) and have favorable neurological survival (7.0% vs 13.1%; adjusted OR: 0.44 [0.42-0.47], P < .001). Compared with patients with recurrent OHCA, patients with recurrent IHCA also had lower rates of survival to discharge (12.7% vs 16.1%; adjusted OR: 0.81 [0.71-0.94], P = .005) and favorable neurological survival (7.0% vs 8.9%; adjusted OR: 0.66 [0.54-0.81], P < .001). Despite worse survival outcomes, patients with recurrent IHCA were least likely to adopt DNAR orders within the first 24 hours after successful resuscitation compared with patients with no recurrent IHCA or recurrent OHCA (17.2% vs 18.9% and 26.6%, respectively) or withdraw care at any time (17.7% vs 24.4% and 31.2%, respectively).


Nearly 1 in 8 patients with an IHCA has a recurrent IHCA, and these patients have worse outcomes than patients with only a single IHCA and those with an IHCA after being hospitalized for an OHCA. Despite worse survival, rates of DNAR and withdrawal of care were lowest for patients with recurrent IHCA. These findings provide important prognostic information for clinicians caring for patients with recurrent IHCA and suggest the need to better align resuscitation and end-of-life decisions with patients’ prognoses after IHCA.

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