Study suggests hospitals are not the best place for cardiac arrest treatment

Friday, January 4, 2008

Image: Rama.

Suffering from cardiac arrest while staying in a hospital might be more deadly than receiving such a fit at a crowded airport, according to a new study.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, states that in about a third of cardiac arrest cases inside hospitals in the United States, doctors and nurses do not respond quickly enough, thus increasing the risk of brain damage and death.

Potentially, this contributes to the deaths of thousands every year. The researchers evaluated records of 6,789 cardiac arrest patients in 369 hospitals. Medical guidelines recommend shocking cardiac arrest victims' hearts back to life within two minutes using defibrillator paddles.

When the defibrillation was delayed, only 22.2 percent of patients survived long enough to be discharged from the hospital, as opposed to 39.3 percent when the shock was given on time. The researchers compared those statistics with more than 50 percent of patients who survive heart attacks while in a crowded airport or a casino, where defibrillators are readily available.

The researchers concluded that delayed defibrillation is common and is associated with lower rates of survival after in-hospital cardiac arrest.