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What Is Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart goes into spasm before stopping completely, which is caused by a complication called ventricular arrhythmia.

There are a few indicators which suggest a person has gone into cardiac arrest, such as not appearing to be breathing or moving, or responding to any stimulus, such as being spoken to or touched. Many cardiac arrests take place in hospitals theoretically, should this should be the safest place for a cardiac arrest to occur, but unfortunately fewer than 20% of adults survive an in-hospital cardiac arrest, according to a survey by the Resuscitation Council.

In-Hospital Cardiac Arrests

A report from the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcomes and Death (NCEPOD) has reported that a third of cardiac arrests that take place in-hospital are preventable if the necessary precautions take place. The study, titled 'Cardiac Arrest Procedures: Time to Intervene?' examined the care of 526 patients who experienced cardiac arrest and a resuscitation attempt over a two-week period in hospitals nationwide in 2010. The figures suggest that, in 75% of deaths from which an in-hospital cardiac arrest was the cause, there were signs indicating the deterioration of the patient's health. Worryingly, in 35% of cases, these warning signs were not picked up, and in the cases which they were, 56% were not acted upon appropriately. The study also suggests that, in 55% of patients, senior doctors were not adequately communicated to regarding the patient's health.

How Can Cardiac Arrests Be Prevented In Hospitals?

There are a number of steps medical staff can take to decrease the number of needless deaths from cardiac arrests in their hospital. The first is to closely monitor patients, taking care to look out for any early warning signs of deteriorating health and pay extra attention to those that are seriously ill. When looking out for these signs, staff should also take routine vital measurements known as early warning scores (EWS) which, if measurements are irregular, can indicate the onset of a serious illness. It is also instrumental that staff keep a good level of communication, especially to senior doctors (and, if a patient is moved, between wards), as any small miscommunication could hinder a patient's recovery. Finally, if it is found that a patient is deteriorating, staff should immediately apply a treatment limitation plan that will decrease the risk of the patient suffering a cardiac arrest.

In-hospital Cardiac Arrests And Medical Negligence

If medical professionals do not follow the steps above in order to reduce the risk of a cardiac arrest, it could be classed as medical negligence. This could be due to substandard communication between junior and senior doctors, or a member of staff's inability to deduce the signs of deterioration of a patient's health. If you feel you, a friend or a family member has been a victim of medical negligence, contact a solicitor immediately.

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Early legal assistance can be vital so please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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