UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Multi-centre implementation of an Educational program to improve the Cardiac Arrest diagnostic accuracy of ambulance Telecommunicators and survival outcomes for sudden cardiac arrest victims: the EduCATe study design and methodology Vaillancourt, Christian; Charette, Manya; Naidoo, Sarika; Taljaard, Monica; Church, Matthew; Hodges, Stephanie; Leduc, Shannon; Christenson, Jim; Cheskes, Sheldon; Dainty, Katie; et al.


Background: Sudden cardiac death remains a leading cause of mortality in Canada, resulting in more than 35,000 deaths annually. Most cardiac arrest victims collapse in their own home (85% of the time) and 50% are witnessed by a family member or bystander. Survivors have a quality of life similar to the general population, but the overall survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) rarely exceeds 8%. Victims are almost four times more likely to survive when receiving bystander CPR, but bystander CPR rates have remained low in Canada over the past decade, not exceeding 15–25% until recently. Telecommunication-assisted CPR instructions have been shown to significantly increase bystander CPR rates, but agonal breathing may be misinterpreted as a sign of life by 9–1-1 callers and telecommunicators, and is responsible for as much as 50% of missed OHCA diagnoses. We sought to improve the ability and speed with which ambulance telecommunicators can recognize OHCA over the phone, initiate timely CPR instructions, and improve survival. Methods: In this multi-center national study, we will implement and evaluate an educational program developed for ambulance telecommunicators using a multiple baseline interrupted time-series design. We will compare outcomes 12 months before and after the implementation of a 20-min theory-based educational video addressing barriers to recognition of OHCA while in the presence of agonal breathing. Participating Canadian sites demonstrated prior ability to collect standardized data on OHCA. Data will be collected from eligible 9–1-1 recordings, paramedic documentation and hospital medical records. Eligible cases will include suspected or confirmed OHCA of presumed cardiac origin in patients of any age with attempted resuscitation. Discussion: The ability of telecommunication-assisted CPR instructions to improve bystander CPR and survival rates for OHCA victims is undeniable. The ability of telecommunicators to recognize OHCA over the phone is unequivocally impeded by relative lack of training on agonal breathing, and reluctance to initiate CPR instructions when in doubt. Our pilot data suggests the potential impact of this project will be to increase absolute OHCA recognition and bystander CPR rates by at least 10%, and absolute out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival by 5% or more. Trial registration: Prospectively registered on March 28, 2019 at ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT03894059 .

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