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Acad Emerg Med. 2003 Jun;10(6):621-6.

Is the ACLS score a valid prediction rule for survival after cardiac arrest?

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA 90509, USA.


The ACLS (advanced cardiac life support) Score was previously developed to predict survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Whether the arrest was witnessed, initial cardiac rhythm, performance of bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and the response time of the paramedic unit were determined to be predictive of survival. However, the ACLS Score has not been validated in other emergency medical services systems.


The purpose of this study was to externally validate the ACLS Score in one patient population.


This was a retrospective cohort study performed at an urban county teaching hospital. The study population consisted of consecutive adult patients treated for out-of-hospital, nontraumatic cardiac arrest, and transported to the authors' institution between November 1, 1994, and September 30, 2001. Patient records for all cardiac arrests during the study period were reviewed. Study variables included witnessed arrest, initial arrest rhythm, bystander CPR, paramedic response time, and survival to hospital discharge. Predicted probability of survival to hospital discharge was calculated for each patient using the ACLS Score. The overall predicted and observed survival rates were compared using Flora's Z score. The Hosmer-Lemeshow test was used to evaluate the model's goodness-of-fit over a range of survival probabilities.


Of 754 cardiac arrest patients enrolled in the study period, 575 (76%) patients had documentation that allowed scoring using the ACLS Score. Twenty-five (4%) patients survived to hospital discharge. The predicted number of survivors based on the ACLS Score was 104 (18%), yielding a Flora's Z statistic of -4.46 (p < 0.0001). After categorizing predicted survival probabilities into four categories, the resulting Hosmer-Lemeshow statistic was 210 (p << 10(-6)). Both goodness-of-fit statistics demonstrated extremely poor fit of the model. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was created, yielding an area under the ROC curve of 0.33 (95% CI = 0.19 to 0.47), signifying extremely poor discrimination.


The previously published ACLS Score was not valid when applied to an external cohort of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients. An externally valid model is needed to predict survival to hospital discharge following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

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