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September 11, 2014

Quick Clip: Should EMS stop transporting cardiac arrest patients?

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In this week’s Inside EMS podcast quick clip, hosts Chris Cebollero and Kelly Grayson discuss the EMS1 column “Should EMS stop prolonging death?” by Steve Whitehead, who suggests it might be inappropriate to transport a dying patient to the hospital.

Many EMS agencies have moved away from immediately transporting cardiac arrest patients, Cebolloero said. Some are starting to implement protocols that say there has to be a return of continuous circulation that stays in effect for at least seven to 10 minutes before EMS can transport.  

“I think we really have to ask ourselves this question,” Cebollero said. “Not only are we transporting a patient that’s dead to a hospital, but we’re doing it under lights and sirens,  we’re running through the red lights — hopefully with due regard — we are putting our crew at risk, we’re putting bystanders at risk, and for somebody that nine times out of 10, we’re not able to save.”

Grayson agreed, saying Whitehead makes the point that EMTs are often the solders in the last stand against death, but EMS also needs to be better patient advocates, and stop fostering expectations that every patient needs to be transported, especially cardiac arrest patients.

“I think we still need to be soldiers,” Grayson said, “but what we need to be defending is a patient’s right to die with some semblance of dignity.” 

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