Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Signal: Use of public defibrillators linked to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival

Providing a shock using a defibrillator to people with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest before the arrival of emergency medical services increases their chance of survival.

The UK survival rate is around 8%, which is lower than in other developed countries. This review found that bystander assistance through cardiopulmonary resuscitation and attaching a defibrillator increased it to 32%, compared to 12% for police or firefighters. Survival rates were even higher for people who had a rhythm that could be treated by a shock from the defibrillator, at 53% following intervention by bystanders. The higher survival rate seen following bystander assistance was probably due to the shorter time response time, although time to intervention was not reported by the researchers.

Whether it was the speed of first response or cause of cardiac arrest that accounted for these differences, it is clear that members of the public have an important role to play. Although this review did not examine training, pilot studies are investigating the potential of medical dispatch alerts for public first aiders.

Overall, the review findings support the current installation of publicly available defibrillators so members of the public can assist those with cardiac arrest until emergency medical services arrive.

From NIHR Dissemination Centre