Improving post-resuscitation care after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest

Introduction: The average rate of survival following an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) in the UK was 7–8% at the start of 2019. An estimated 60 000 OHCAs are attended by UK ambulance services annually and, despite developments in prehospital and post-resuscitation care, there are significant variations in survival between regions and countries. Aims: This study aims to identify the potential for care pathways, evaluate UK practices and review the evidence for direct referral of OHCA patients to dedicated cardiac arrest centres. Methods: Evidence was gathered from 20 articles identified through a systematic search of articles related to OHCA and post-resuscitation care, as well as from NHS England in relation to performance and outcomes. Results: Between April 2018 and January 2019, 30.6% of patients experiencing an OHCA had a recorded ROSC (return of spontaneous circulation), and 10.2% survived. However, the 58.7% compliance with the post-ROSC care bundle by ambulance services suggests variations in the delivery of post-resuscitation care. At present, UK ambulance services stabilise and transfer OHCA patients with ROSC to the nearest emergency department, which may not provide specialist services. Holland and Norway report survival rates of 21% and 25% respectively, and operate a centralised approach to post-resuscitation care through designated cardiac arrest centres, which provide specialist care that helps to improve the likelihood of survival. While no randomised controlled trials have been carried out in relation to cardiac arrest centres, it is recognised that the quality of care in the post-resuscitation phase is important, as this is when the highest proportion of deaths occur. Conclusion: Further research into specific care pathways and centralised care should be carried out, and an OHCA post-resuscitation care pathway should be developed to improve the delivery of care and survival.

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