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October 1992

Low Survival Rate After Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation in a County Hospital

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine (Dr Blackhall) and Preventive Medicine (Dr Azen and Mr Ziogas), University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Arch Intern Med. 1992;152(10):2045-2048. doi:10.1001/archinte.1992.00400220071012

Background.—  The standard of practice in hospitals in the United States is to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on all patients who suffer a cardiac arrest unless a specific order has been written to the contrary. In recent decades, however, data showing a low rate of survival to discharge under certain conditions have accumulated, leading some to question this policy. The objective of this study was to examine variables predictive of patient survival following cardiopulmonary resuscitation using standardized methods of measuring severity of illness.

Methods.—  All patients were identified who underwent cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the medicine service at Los Angeles County (California) Hospital from August 15, 1990, to February 15, 1991. Severity of illness was evaluated by examining diagnosis, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score, and organ system failure. Cases were followed up prospectively until death or hospital discharge, and data concerning post-arrest mental status, utilization of resources, and disposition were gathered.

Results.—  Of the 131 patients identified, 22 patients (16.8%) survived for 24 hours but died before discharge; only four patients (3.1%) survived to discharge.

Conclusions.—  This study suggests that in some settings (eg, institutions that are for sick patients under conditions where monitoring is limited because of scarcity of resources), survival after full cardiopulmonary arrest may be even lower than previously documented.(Arch Intern Med. 1992;152:2045-2048)