Improving Appropriate Neurologic Prognostication after Cardiac Arrest. A Stepped Wedge Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial
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RATIONALE: Predictions about neurologic prognosis that are based on early clinical findings after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) are often inaccurate and may lead to premature decisions to withdraw life-sustaining treatments (LST) in patients who might otherwise survive with good neurologic outcomes. OBJECTIVES: To improve adherence to recommendations for appropriate neurologic prognostication after OHCA and reduce deaths from premature decisions to withdraw LST. METHODS: This was a pragmatic stepped wedge cluster randomized controlled trial evaluating a multifaceted quality intervention (education, pathways, local champions, audit-feedback). The primary outcome was appropriate neurologic prognostication, defined as (1a) no early withdrawal of LST (WLST) (within 72 h) based on estimates of poor neurologic prognosis and (1b) no WLST between 72 hours and 7 days in absence of clinical predictors of poor neurologic prognosis or (2) surviving beyond 7 days. Secondary outcomes were deaths from early WLST and survival with good neurologic outcome. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Between June 1, 2011, and June 30, 2014, a total of 905 patients with OHCA were enrolled from ICUs of 18 Ontario hospitals. Rates of appropriate neurologic prognostication increased after the intervention (68% vs. 74% patients; odds ratio [OR], 1.79; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01-3.19; P = 0.05). However, rates of survival to hospital discharge (46% vs. 50%; OR, 1.71; 95% CI, 0.97-3.01; P = 0.06) and survival with good neurologic outcome remained similar (38% vs. 43%; OR, 1.43; 95% CI, 0.84-2.86; P = 0.19). CONCLUSIONS: A multicenter quality intervention improved rates of appropriate neurologic prognostication after OHCA but did not increase survival with good neurologic outcome. Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT 01472458).
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