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Support Care Cancer. 2010 Oct;18(10):1287-92. doi: 10.1007/s00520-009-0746-8. Epub 2009 Oct 8.

Prehospital emergency treatment of palliative care patients with cardiac arrest: a retrolective investigation.

Author information

  • 1Department of Anaesthesiology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany. christoph.wiese@klinik.uni-regensburg.de

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Today, prehospital emergency medical teams (EMTs) are confronted with emergent situations of cardiac arrest in palliative care patients. However, little is known about the out-of-hospital approach in this situation and the long-term survival rate of this specific patient type. The aim of the present investigation was to provide information about the strategic and therapeutic approach employed by EMTs in outpatient palliative care patients in cardiac arrest.

METHODS:

During a period of 2 years, we retrolectively analysed emergency medical calls with regard to palliative care emergency situations dealing with cardiac arrest. We evaluated the numbers of patients who were resuscitated, the prevalence of an advance directive or other end-of-life protocol, the first responder on cardiac arrest, the return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) and the survival rate.

RESULTS:

Eighty-eight palliative care patients in cardiac arrest were analysed. In 19 patients (22%), no resuscitation was started. Paramedics and prehospital emergency physicians began resuscitation in 61 cases (69%) and in 8 cases (9%), respectively. A total of 10 patients (11%) showed a ROSC; none survived after 48 h. Advance directives were available in 43% of cases. The start of resuscitation was independent of the presence of an advance directive or other end-of-life protocol.

CONCLUSIONS:

Strategic and therapeutic approaches in outpatient palliative care patients with cardiac arrest differ depending on medical qualification. Although many of these patients do not wish to be resuscitated, resuscitation was started independent of the presence of advance directive. To reduce legal insecurity and to avoid resuscitation and a possible lengthening of the dying process, advance directives and/or "Do not attempt resuscitation" orders should be more readily available and should be adhered to more closely.

PMID:
19813029
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2923330
Free PMC Article
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