Inhospital cardiac arrest a growing problem

More than 200,000 patients are treated for cardiac arrest in U.S. hospitals each year, according to a study out of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Since cardiac arrest is known to be a leading contributor to inhospital deaths, the findings underscore the need to determine preventable causes and establish best practices in cardiac care for hospitalized patients.

According to the study's authors, many of the inhospital cardiac arrests they analyzed could have been prevented with enhanced patient monitoring, quicker reaction time to administer CPR and defibrillation, and better observance of best practices in resuscitation care.

"Until now, we could only guess about how many patients were suffering these events," lead author Raina M. Merchant, MD, MS, and an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine, said in a statement. "These numbers finally provide us with a road map for improving allocation of resources to care for these critically ill patients and further our study of ways to identify patients who are at risk of cardiac arrest in the hospital and improve survival."

However, the authors warn that this national inhospital cardiac arrest rate may continue to grow, becoming a burden on hospitals.

Still, hospitals that have developed and adhered to best practice guidelines in cardiac services have improved outcomes and lessened associated medical costs of cardiac arrest.

For example--as FierceHealthcare noted in April--hospitals that implemented a strict, comprehensive approach to heart failure care--including advanced cardiac training for clinicians, multidisciplinary team rounding, and standardized clinical tools like checklists--improved access to appropriate care and reduced mortality for Hispanic and African-American cardiac arrest patients, according to a study published in the American Heart Journal

To learn more:
- read the UPenn press release
- here's the study abstract