Surviving cardiac arrests

Hospital TV dramas often include scenes of the 'crash team' arriving to resuscitate a patient whose heart has stopped beating. In Southampton we take very seriously the need to respond quickly and effectively if a patient has a cardiac arrest.

We also want to reduce the number of arrests that take place by getting care right and spotting the warning signs early.

As I've mentioned in other blogs, a great way of finding out how well we are doing is to submit data to a national audit - in this case the National Cardiac Arrest Audit.

The first set of results came back recently, which show that we are performing above the national average and that we have continued to make improvements year on year.

In the first six months of 2011 there were 80 patients who needed the resuscitation team because of a cardiac arrest - that is a rate of just under 14 patients out of every 10,000 we treat.

National information suggests the average is just over 21 per 10,000.

The fact that we have fewer arrests shows we are getting care right - and we have been training staff to understand what to do to prevent arrests happening.

Also, our survival rate of 27.5% was far better than the expected 17% set by the National Patient Safety agency.

If you don't particularly like working through the figures, perhaps I can summarise by saying that we are proud that we have reduced the number of arrests that take place and that more of our patients recover following a cardiac arrest.

For the majority that recovery includes ‘a good neurological outcome’ which means their brains are working well.

Dr Serena Cottrell, who has chaired our resuscitation committee, commented: “We work hard to ensure that we get the best possible outcomes for our patients and I am personally delighted that we now have the evidence to show that not only are we achieving this but that we are continuing to drive standards higher and higher year on year.”