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The implementation of cardiac arrest treatment recommendations in English acute NHS trusts: a national survey


Purpose of the study There are approximately 35 000 in-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year. Successful resuscitation requires integration of the medical science, training and education of clinicians and implementation of best practice in the clinical setting. In 2015, the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) published its latest resuscitation treatment recommendations. It is currently unknown the extent to which these treatment recommendations have been successfully implemented in practice in English NHS acute hospital trusts.

Methods We conducted an electronic survey of English acute NHS trusts to assess the implementation of key ILCOR resuscitation treatment recommendations in relation to in-hospital cardiac arrest practice at English NHS acute hospital trusts.

Results Of 137 eligible trusts, 73 responded to the survey (response rate 53.3%). The survey identified significant variation in the implementation of ILCOR recommendations. In particular, the use of waveform capnography (n=33, 45.2%) and ultrasound (n=29, 39.7%) was often reported to be available only in specialist areas. Post-resuscitation debriefing occurs following every in-hospital cardiac arrest in few trusts (5.5%, n=4), despite a strong ILCOR recommendation. In contrast, participation in a range of quality improvement strategies such as the National Cardiac Arrest Audit (90.4%, n=66) and resuscitation equipment provision/audit (91.8%, n=67) were high. Financial restrictions were identified by 65.8% (n=48) as the main barrier to guideline implementation.

Conclusion Our survey found that ILCOR treatment recommendations had not been fully implemented in most English NHS acute hospital trusts. Further work is required to better understand barriers to implementation.

  • Cardiac Arrest
  • cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Knowledge Translation

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

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  • Contributors JC, KC and JY designed the study, developed the survey tool, interpreted the data and developed the manuscript for publication. JC collected and analysed the data. JY acts as guarantor for the data.

  • Funding KC and JY are supported as NIHR post-doctoral research fellows.

  • Competing interests KC and JY were evidence evaluators for the 2015 ILCOR review process.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the University of Birmingham Ethical Review Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement There are no unpublished data from this study.

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