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Cardiac arrest, Cardiac surgery, CSU-ALS



  1. Whitlock, John P. DNP, MS, RN


Background: Although the body of knowledge related to Cardiac Surgery Unit Advanced Life Support (CSU-ALS) guideline has grown over the last 10 years, there is no existing literature examining the impact of this training on patient mortality outcomes.


Objectives: This article describes one institution's experience related to patient mortality outcomes following a rigorous training program following the CSU-ALS guideline. Because of the small numbers associated with cardiac arrests after cardiac surgery (0.7%-8%), statistical significance was not a goal.


Methods: A quasi-experimental design was used to compare mortality outcomes before and after CSU-ALS training. One hundred percent of the staff were trained in the initial year, and 85% to 90% of the staff maintained competency in the following years. The author used 10 years of retrospective data to compare mortality rates 4 years before and 6 years after the intervention.


Results: The retrospective data showed a decrease in the percentage of failure-to-rescue rate in the intervention group (control 16% vs intervention 2%). Fisher exact testing implies that the observed frequencies were not significantly different from the expected frequencies (P = .072 and P = .135). Because of the small sample size, statistical significance could not be established.


Discussion: This institution experienced an extremely positive track record in outcomes despite its inability to prove a statistically significant correlation to the CSU-ALS training. The overall observed and self-reported confidence level of the staff during the study period was outside the project scope but deserves mention and further research.