Cardiac arrest in the paediatric intensive care unit: defining the problem and developing solutions.


Thousands of children experience a cardiac arrest event in the hospital each year, with more than half of these patients not surviving to hospital discharge. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) depth, rate, velocity and percentage of high-quality chest compressions are modifiable factors associated with improved survival. Therefore, we created a novel and standardised process to track and analyse cardiac arrests in the Duke paediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Our aim was to identify areas for improved American Heart Association (AHA) compliance and implement education and communication-based initiatives to enhance early recognition of at-risk patients leading to improved outcomes. From January 2017 to December 2018, all cardiac arrests in our PICU were tracked, reviewed and presented at monthly morbidity and mortality conference. We used the data to track compliance with AHA guidelines and identify opportunities for improvement. Through these efforts, we established a multidisciplinary cardiac arrest education and review programme. Over the 2-year period, we tracked 45 cardiac arrests, which comprised 2% of all PICU admissions. In 2017, during the first year of development, 16 of 22 arrests (73%) were not reported to code committee members in time for complete review. Of the six cardiac arrests with complete reviews, only 17% followed AHA guidelines. In 2018, all 23 arrest events were communicated and 76% of resuscitations were found to be compliant with AHA guidelines. Survival of patients to discharge was 47% in 2017 and increased to 63% in 2018 with similar percentage of PICU admissions having a cardiac arrest between the 2 years. The primary aim of this project was to establish a multidisciplinary comprehensive cardiac arrest review process. This programme allowed for comprehensive analysis of individual events, promoted quality improvement initiatives and improved consistent delivery of high-quality CPR.





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Publication Info

Ray, Candice M, Matthew Pizzuto, Edith Reyes-Alvarado, Kimberly Jackson, David A Turner and Sameer Kamath (2020). Cardiac arrest in the paediatric intensive care unit: defining the problem and developing solutions. BMJ open quality, 9(4). 10.1136/bmjoq-2020-000930 Retrieved from

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Kimberly Jackson

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

David Ashley Turner

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pediatrics

Medical Simulation
Extracorporeal Support


Sameer Shantaram Kamath

Associate Professor of Pediatrics

I love children and everything about them. I believe in caring for each of my patients as I would my own children. I believe in investing in systems of care and ensuring that the care we provide is safe, efficient and evidence-based.

I am interested in quality/performance improvement and making systems more efficient. 

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