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Cardiac arrest response slow for hospital visitors

HeartJun 23, 05

You might think that, if it’s going to happen, the best time for your heart to stop might be while you’re in a hospital, visiting. That isn’t necessarily so, according to a new study.

“As a public citizen, you’re better off suffering a cardiac arrest in a casino or airport terminal than in a hospital lobby,” Dr. Bruce D. Adams, from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, told Reuters Health. “The time to defibrillation in hospital lobbies appears to be much worse than what has been reported for casinos and airports.”

This finding is concerning, given the critical role that timely defibrillation plays in survival.

In the study, in the American Journal of Cardiology, Adams and colleagues looked into 749 instances of cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest at one hospital over a 2-year period. Six of the arrests involved visitors, while the remainder involved patients.

It took 2.5 minutes for hospital patients to receive defibrillation, but 12.3 minutes elapsed before visitors in public areas of the hospital received defibrillation.

Resuscitation efforts were successful in 72 percent of the patients, but of the 4 visitors who had a cardiac arrest, only 1 (25 percent) survived.

Adams said the delay in defibrillation for hospital visitors “may stem from cardiac arrest teams not being used to codes called in public areas of the hospital.”

He said that he’s now “putting together a study to see if placement of automated external defibrillators can improve response times in public areas of the hospital, as it has in casinos and airport terminals.”

SOURCE: American Journal of Cardiology, June 1, 2005.

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