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Resuscitation. 2010 Jun;81(6):685-90. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2010.02.011. Epub 2010 Mar 16.

The LA story: what happened after a new policy allowing paramedics to forgo resuscitation attempts in prehospital cardiac arrest.

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  • 1Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.



Despite potential harm to patients, families, and emergency personnel, a low survival rate, and high costs and intensity of care, attempting resuscitation after prehospital cardiac arrest is the norm, unless there are signs of irreversible death or the presence of a valid, state-issued DNR.


To determine whether there was a change in the rate of forgoing resuscitation attempts in prehospital cardiac arrest after implementation of a new policy allowing paramedics to forgo resuscitation based on a verbal family request or the presence of certain arrest characteristics.


All prehospital run sheets for cardiac arrest in Los Angeles County were reviewed for the first seven days of each month August 2006-January 2007 (pre-policy) and January-June 2008 (post-policy). Paramedics were more likely to forgo resuscitation attempts after the policy change (13.3% vs. 8.5%, p<0.01). In addition, the percentage of patients with documented signs of irreversible death decreased post-policy, from 50.4% to 35.8%, p<0.01. After adjustment for potential confounders (patient demographics, clinical characteristics and EMS factors), as well as exclusion of patients with signs of irreversible death, paramedics are significantly more likely to forgo a resuscitation, and less likely to attempt resuscitation, after the policy change (OR 1.67 [95% CI 1.07, 2.61], p=0.024).


Paramedics are more likely to forgo, and less likely to attempt, resuscitation in victims of cardiac arrest after implementation of a new policy. There was also an associated decrease in the percentage of patients who had signs of irreversible death, which might reflect a change in paramedic behavior.

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