ALS for cardiac arrest linked to more deaths, study finds

A Harvard University study found that 90 days after hospitalization, patients treated in BLS ambulances were 50 percent more likely to survive than those treated with ALS


PBS

Emergency treatments delivered in ambulances that offer “Advanced Life Support” for cardiac arrest may be linked to more death, comas and brain damage than those providing “Basic Life Support.” That’s according to a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, which suggests that high-tech equipment and sophisticated treatment techniques may distract from what’s most important during cardiac arrest — transporting a critically ill patient to the hospital quickly.

“They’re taking a lot of time in the field to perform interventions that don’t seem to be as effective in that environment,” said Prachi Sanghavi, lead author of the study and a PhD student in Harvard University’s Program in Health Policy. Those interventions include the use of advanced defibrillators to shock the heart, the administration of IV drugs, and perhaps most risky in the field, intubation — the insertion of a plastic tube in the airway to help with breathing.

“Of course, these are treatments we know are good in the emergency room, but they’ve been pushed into the field without really being tested,” she said. “And the field is a much different environment.”

Read full storyWhy you don’t want a high-tech ambulance if you’re in cardiac arrest

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