Validation of a Rule for Termination of Resuscitation in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest

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Abstract

Background

We prospectively evaluated a clinical prediction rule to be used by emergency medical technicians (EMTs) trained in the use of an automated external defibrillator for the termination of basic life support resuscitative efforts during out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. The rule recommends termination when there is no return of spontaneous circulation, no shocks are administered, and the arrest is not witnessed by emergency medical-services personnel. Otherwise, the rule recommends transportation to the hospital, in accordance with routine practice.

Methods

The study included 24 emergency medical systems in Ontario, Canada. All patients 18 years of age or older who had an arrest of presumed cardiac cause and who were treated by EMTs trained in the use of an automated external defibrillator were included. The patients were treated according to standard guidelines. Characteristics of diagnostic tests for the prediction rule were calculated. These characteristics include sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values.

Results

Follow-up data were obtained for all 1240 patients. Of 776 patients with cardiac arrest for whom the rule recommended termination, 4 survived (0.5 percent). The rule had a specificity of 90.2 percent for recommending transport of survivors to the emergency department and had a positive predictive value for death of 99.5 percent when termination was recommended. Implementation of this rule would result in a decrease in the rate of transportation from 100 percent of patients to 37.4 percent. The addition of other criteria (a response interval greater than eight minutes or a cardiac arrest not witnessed by a bystander) would further improve both the specificity and positive predictive value of the rule but would result in the transportation of a larger proportion of patients.

Conclusions

The use of a clinical prediction rule for the termination of resuscitation may help clinicians decide whether to terminate basic life support resuscitative efforts in patients having an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

N Engl J Med 2006;355

478-87.

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