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Choice of hospital after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest - a decision with far-reaching consequences: a study in a large German city

Jan Wnent1*, Stephan Seewald1, Matthias Heringlake1, Hans Lemke2, Kirk Brauer1, Rolf Lefering3, Matthias Fischer4, Tanja Jantzen5, Berthold Bein6, Martin Messelken4 and Jan-Thorsten Gräsner6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160 - Haus 13, 23538 Lübeck, Germany

2 City of Dortmund, Fire Department, Steinstraße 25, 44122 Dortmund, Germany

3 Institute for Research in Operative Medicine, University Witten/Herdecke - Faculty of Medicine, Ostmerheimer Straße 200 - Haus 38, 51109 Cologne, Germany

4 Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Klinik am Eichert, Eichertstraße 3, 73035 Göppingen, Germany

5 Intensive Care Transport Service Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, German Red Cross (DRK) Parchim, Moltkeplatz 3, 19370 Parchim, Germany

6 Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Schwanenweg 21, 24105 Kiel, Germany

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Critical Care 2012, 16:R164  doi:10.1186/cc11516

Published: 12 September 2012



Between 1 and 31% of patients suffering out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) survive to discharge from hospital. International studies have shown that the level of care provided by the admitting hospital determines survival for patients suffering from OHCA. These data may only be partially transferable to the German medical system where responders are in-field emergency medical physicians. The present study determines the influence of the emergency physician's choice of admitting hospital on patient outcome after OHCA in a large urban setting.


All data for patients collected in the German Resuscitation Registry for the city of Dortmund during 2007 and 2008 were analyzed. Patients under 18 years of age, with traumatic mechanism, and with incomplete charts were excluded. Admitting hospitals were divided into two groups: those without the capability for percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), and those with PCI capability. Data were analyzed by multivariate statistics, taking into account the effects of mild therapeutic hypothermia treatment and PCI capability of the admitting hospital with respect to the neurological status upon hospital discharge.


Between 2007 and 2008 a total of 1,109 cardiopulmonary resuscitation attempts were registered for the city of Dortmund, of which 889 could be included in our study. Return of spontaneous circulation was achieved in 360 of 889 patients (40.5%). In total, 282 of 889 patients displayed return of spontaneous circulation during transport to the hospital (31.7%); 152 were transported with ongoing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (17.1%). Of the total 434 patients admitted to hospital, 264 were admitted to hospitals without PCI capability and 170 to hospitals with PCI capability. Multivariate analysis demonstrated a significant influence on patient discharge with good neurological status for those admitted to PCI hospitals (odds ratio 3.14 (95% confidence interval 1.51 to 6.56)), independent of receiving mild therapeutic hypothermia and/or PCI. Compared with patients admitted to hospitals without PCI capability, significantly more patients in PCI hospitals were discharged alive (41% vs. 13%, P < 0.001) and remained alive 1 year after the event (28% vs. 6%, P < 0.001).


The choice of admitting hospital for patients suffering OHCA significantly influences treatment and outcome. This influence is independent of PCI performance and of mild therapeutic hypothermia. Further analysis is required to determine the possible parameters determining patient outcome.