Around the world, the survival rate from cardiac arrest varies widely depending on where you live — and the statistics can be daunting. Research shows the survival rate in some communities is close to zero, while in others it’s over 50% for ventricular fibrillation (VF).
We can — and must — do better
To successfully fight this tremendous disparity, there are 10 actions you can apply in your community — some simple, some more complex — to help facilitate change and dramatically improve survival rates.
1. Establish a cardiac arrest registry
How can we measure improvement if we’re not tracking results? This is the foundation for improving survival. It’s not just tallying whether a patient lives or dies, but all aspects related to care so you can gauge what’s working — and what’s not. Through continued measurement, you can correlate improvements with outcomes and identity ways to get even better.
2. Implement telephone CPR with ongoing training and QI
Having protocols is one thing. Using them is completely different. A center whose culture supports dispatchers to confidently offer T-CPR instructions is primed to save lives. In King County, for example, there’s an ingrained expectation that “every call is a cardiac arrest until proven otherwise.” This mindset positions dispatchers to keep life-saving protocols top of mind.
3. Implement high-performance CPR with ongoing training and QI
While the timing from collapse to onset of CPR is predictive of survival, recent studies suggest that the correlation between quality CPR and survival is also a critical factor. High-performance CPR is a measurable skill, which can be achieved with the right training and review processes. The better the CPR, the better your patient’s chances.
4. Implement rapid dispatch
With rapid dispatch, the closest EMT vehicle can be enroute within seconds of a 911 call. An expedited arrival allows EMTs to perform CPR and administer defibrillatory shocks before more valuable time is lost. Survival rate fall about 10% for every minute CPR and defibrillation are delayed. Thus, rapid dispatch can boost rates by 5-10%.
Together, these four actions (think of them as “the low-hanging fruit”) can create tremendous impact without requiring a great deal of time or financial resources to implement.