Cardiac arrest witnessed by prehospital personnel: Intersystem variation in initial rhythm as a basis for a proposed extension of the utstein recommendations

E. J. Gallagher, G. Lombardi, P. Gennis

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Study objective: To test the hypothesis that intersystem variation in initial rhythm among EMS-witnessed arrests is of sufficient magnitude to warrant standardization of survival by creation of an Utstein-style denominator of EMS-witnessed ventricular fibrillation (VF). Methods: We conducted a planned subset analysis of a prospective observational cohort study of consecutive EMS-witnessed adult cardiac arrests occurring in New York City and meeting Utstein entry criteria The primary outcome measure was inter system variation in frequency of EMS-witnessed VF in New York City compared with that in other EMS systems. Secondary outcome measures were variations in survival after EMS-witnessed VF arrests and overall survival after all EMS-witnessed arrests Results: Intersystem variation showed a threefold difference in the frequency of EMS-witnessed VF (24% in New York City versus 77% in Scotland; 99% confidence interval [CI] for 53% difference, 43% to 63%; P<10-7), a twofold difference in survival after EMS-witnessed VF (25% in NYC versus 48% in King County, WA; 99% CI for 23% difference, 6% to 39%; P<.002), and a fourfold differ once in survival after all EMS- witnessed arrests (9% in New York City versus 35% in King County; 99% CI for 26% difference, 18% to 34%; P<10-7). Conclusion: The marked variation in frequency of initial rhythm in EMS-witnessed arrests suggests that a modified Utstein denominator of EMS-witnessed VF would facilitate more uniform inter system comparison of survival in this unique cohort. However, even after adjustment for initial rhythm, large residual intersystem survival differences remain unexplained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-81
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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