Measuring the impact of emergency medical services (EMS) on out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival in a developing country: A key metric for EMS systems’ performance

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Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) can be used to evaluate the overall performance of the emergency medical services’ (EMS) system. This study assessed the impact of EMS on OHCA survival rates in a setting where the prehospital system is underdeveloped.

A retrospective chart review was carried out over a 5-year period of all adult OHCA patients admitted to the emergency department (ED) of a tertiary care center in Lebanon.

A total of 271 patients with OHCA (179 [66.1%] men, mean age of 69.9 [standard deviation = 15.0 years] were enrolled. The most common OHCA location was residence/home (58.7%). The majority of arrests were witnessed (51.7%) with 6.1% witnessed by EMS; 211 patients (75.6%) were transported to the ED by EMS. Prehospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was done by EMS for 43.2% of the patients, whereas only 4.4% received CPR from a family member/bystander. Prehospital automated external defibrillator use was documented in 1.5% of cases in the prehospital setting. Only 2 patients had return of spontaneous circulation prior to ED arrival. Most patients (96.7%) were resuscitated in the ED. Patients presented to the ED mostly in asystole (79.3%). Forty-three patients (15.9%) survived to hospital admission and 13 (4.8%) were discharged alive with over half of them (53.8%) had a good neurological outcome upon discharge (cerebral performance category 1 or 2).

Survival of EMS-treated OHCA victims in Lebanon is not as expected. Medical oversight of EMS activities is needed to link EMS activities to clinical outcomes and improve survival from cardiac arrest in Lebanon.

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