CPR is considered the cornerstone of resuscitation but not all emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and hospital staff are properly trained to do it. This variability in CPR performance can dramatically change the chance of survival after cardiac arrest, according to a new consensus statement from the American Heart Association.
Each year in the United States, more than a half-million children and adults suffer cardiac arrest, but survival rates vary significantly: 3 percent to 16 percent for arrests outside of hospitals and 12 percent to 22 percent in hospitals, authors said in the statement, which was published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.
"There have been huge advances in CPR and there's no question that high-quality CPR saves lives," Peter Meaney, M.D., lead author and assistant professor of anesthesia and critical care at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said in an announcement. "However, right now there is wide variability in the quality of CPR--and we can do better."
Hospitals and EMTs must focus on quality of care, the authors state, advising them to:
- Gather data on the quality of CPR delivery and patient response at the scene
- Have a team leader oversee and evaluate the quality of CPR programs to ensure staff follow guidelines and address patient needs and problems such as rescuer fatigue
- Ensure organizations and staff conduct debriefings, follow CPR delivery checklists, measure patient response, provide frequent refresher courses and participate in CPR data registries
"Cardiac arrest is a chaotic event and sometimes we lose track of the fact that high-quality CPR is the cornerstone of resuscitation," Meaney said. "If we focus on improving CPR quality we can save lives. We always need to be better, always need to be pushing the needle, because lives are at stake," he said.