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  1. Dixon, Mari-Newton DNP, NP-C
  2. Keasling, Michelle MSN, RN


Therapeutic hypothermia (TH) reduces neurologic injury and mortality in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survivors. Myocardial infarction (MI) is one of the main causes of cardiac arrest and primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is recommended as initial treatment for patients who present with acute ST-segment elevated MI (STEMI). Cape Fear Valley Medical Center (CFVMC) was the only designated PCI center in the state of North Carolina without a TH protocol. The purpose of this quality improvement initiative was to develop and implement a TH protocol for postcardiac arrest STEMI patients at CFVMC. The existing STEMI process was adapted to include the use of TH for STEMI patients who presented from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Steps to development of the protocol included creation of TH STEMI flow map, reallocation of nursing staff, exploration of cooling methods and equipment options, development of a evidence-based physician order set, creation of nursing documentation process and competency assessment, organization of educational sessions, and approval through multiple hospital committees. The development of a postarrest STEMI TH protocol involved multiple disciplines and required approval from several committees. Lack of physician and nursing knowledge of the protocol proved to be the greatest challenge. The TH protocol is a step forward in implementing evidence-based practice and improving the quality of postresuscitation care provided to postcardiac arrest STEMI patients.