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Acad Emerg Med. 2002 Jul;9(7):671-8.

Derivation of a termination-of-resuscitation guideline for emergency medical technicians using automated external defibrillators.

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Division of Prehospital Care, Department of Emergency Services, Sunnybrook & Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



To determine the association between characteristics of cardiac arrest and survival to hospital discharge following failed resuscitation by defibrillation-trained emergency medical technicians (EMT-Ds), and to propose an out-of-hospital termination-of-resuscitation (TOR) guideline for EMT-Ds.


A 22-month retrospective review of 700 out-of-hospital primary cardiac arrest patients in a large emergency medical services (EMS) system who received exclusively EMT-D care.


Seven hundred primary cardiac arrest patients were identified. Follow-up was obtained in 662 cases (94.6%). Of these, 36 (5.4%) achieved a return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) prior to transport. Among the 626 patients who failed to achieve ROSC at any time, two (0.3%) survived to discharge. Multivariate analysis showed that ROSC at any time had the strongest association with survival [odds ratio (OR) 45.5; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) = 8.5 to 243.7]. A shock prior to transport (OR 6.9; 95% CI = 1.2 to 40.3) and cardiac arrest witnessed by EMS personnel (OR 4.4; 95% CI = 1.0 to 18.5) were also independently associated with survival. These variables were incorporated into a TOR guideline. The guideline was 100% sensitive (95% CI = 99.1 to 100) in identifying survivors and had 100% negative predictive value (95% CI = 75.3 to 100) for identifying nonsurvivors of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the study population.


In this EMS system, cardiac arrest patients may be considered for out-of-hospital TOR following EMT-D resuscitation attempts when there has been no ROSC, no shock has been given, and the arrest was not witnessed by EMS personnel. These guidelines require prospective validation.

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