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Scand J Trauma Resusc Emerg Med. 2008 Sep 22;16:11. doi: 10.1186/1757-7241-16-11.

The early minutes of in-hospital cardiac arrest: shock or CPR? A population based prospective study.

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Department of Anaesthesiology and Emergency Medicine, St. Olav University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.



In the early minutes of cardiac arrest, timing of defibrillation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation during the basic life support phase (BLS CPR) is debated. Aims of this study were to provide in-hospital incidence and outcome data, and to investigate the relation between outcome and time from collapse to defibrillation, time to BLS CPR, and CPR quality.


Resuscitation attempts during a 3-year period at St. Olav's University Hospital (960 beds) were prospectively registered. The times between collapse and initiation of BLS CPR, and defibrillation were determined. CPR quality was assessed by the resuscitation team. The relation between these variables and outcome (short term survival and discharge) was explored using non-parametric correlation and logistic regression.


CPR was started in a total of 223 arrests, an incidence of 77 episodes per 1000 beds per year. Return of spontaneous circulation occurred in 40%, and 29 patients (13%) survived to discharge. Median time from collapse to BLS CPR was 1 minute; CPR was judged to be of good quality in half of the episodes. CPR during the first 3 minutes in ventricular fibrillation (VF/VT) was negatively associated with survival, but later proved beneficial. For patients with non-shockable rhythms, we found no association between outcome and time to BLS or CPR quality.


Our findings indicate that defibrillation should have priority during the first 3 minutes of VF/VT. Later, patients benefit from CPR in conjunction with defibrillation. Patients presenting with non-shockable rhythms have a grave prognosis, and the outcome was not associated with time to BLS or CPR quality.

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