NY rescinds new resuscitation guidelines for EMS

The state department of health had issued instructions last week to not attempt to resuscitate cardiac arrest patients who don't have a pulse


Geoff Herbert
Syracuse Media Group, N.Y.

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York state has revoked a new do-not-resuscitate guideline for cardiac patients due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The New York Post reported Tuesday that a NYS Health Department memo issued last week told paramedics not to try and revive anyone without a pulse, despite previously being told to spend up to 20 minutes trying to save people found in cardiac arrest. The memo said the change was “necessary during the COVID-19 response to protect the health and safety of EMS providers by limiting their exposure, conserve resources, and ensure optimal use of equipment to save the greatest number of lives."

New York state has revoked guidance issued last week for EMS providers to not attempt resuscitation for cardiac arrest patients without a pulse. (Photo/John Nacion, STAR MAX, Ipx via AP)
New York state has revoked guidance issued last week for EMS providers to not attempt resuscitation for cardiac arrest patients without a pulse. (Photo/John Nacion, STAR MAX, Ipx via AP)

In a statement sent to The Post-Standard on Wednesday, the New York State Health Department said it has “rescinded” the order because it doesn’t reflect state standards.

“This guidance, proposed by physician leaders of the EMS Regional Medical Control Systems and the State Advisory Council — in accordance with American Heart Association guidance and based on standards recommended by the American College of Emergency Physicians and adopted in multiple other states — was issued April 17, 2020 at the recommendation of the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, and reflected nationally recognized minimum standards. However, they don’t reflect New York’s standards and for that reason DOH commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker has ordered them to be rescinded," the statement said.

First responders objected to the do-not-resuscitate guideline, according to the Post. An unnamed FDNY EMS worker told the newspaper that only about three or four out of every 100 patients with no pulse are able to be brought back to life through drugs and hospitalization, but “for those three or four people, it’s a big deal."

ABC reported earlier this month that the Regional Emergency Services Council of New York was told not to transport anyone to NYC hospitals if they cannot be saved in the field, due to an overwhelming number of coronavirus patients with ambulance crews and emergency rooms struggling to keep up.

“It almost seems like it’s never stopping, people keep coming and coming and coming and there’s just no space to put them,” ER Dr. Darien Sutton told ABC.

New York state has confirmed more than 251,000 cases of coronavirus and over 15,000 deaths, though hospitalizations and intubations have trended downward over the past few weeks. New deaths Tuesday were below 500 for the third day in a row, the lowest since April 1.

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©2020 Syracuse Media Group, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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