A qualitative study to identify barriers to local implementation of prehospital termination of resuscitation protocols

Comilla Sasson*, Jane Forman, David Krass, Michelle Macy, Arthur L. Kellermann, Bryan F. McNally

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background-Despite the existence of national American Heart Association guidelines and 2 termination-of-resuscitation (TOR) rules for ceasing efforts in refractory out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, many emergency medical services agencies in the United States have adopted their own local protocols. Public policies and local perceptions may serve as barriers or facilitators to implementing national TOR guidelines at the local level. Methods and Results-Three focus groups, lasting 90 to 120 minutes, were conducted at the National Association of Emergency Medical Services Physicians meeting in January 2008. Snowball sampling was used to recruit participants. Two reviewers analyzed the data in an iterative process to identify recurrent and unifying themes. We identified 3 distinct groups whose current policies or perceptions may impede efforts to adopt national TOR guidelines: payers who incentivize transport; legislators who create state mandates for transport and allow only narrow use of do-not-resuscitate orders; and communities where cultural norms are perceived to impede termination of resuscitation. Our participants suggested that national organizations, such as the American Heart Association and American College of Emergency Physicians, may serve as potential facilitators in addressing these barriers by taking the lead in asking payers to change reimbursement structures; encouraging legislators to revise laws to reflect the best available medical evidence; and educating the public that rapid transport to the hospital cannot substitute for optimal provision of prehospital care. Conclusion-We have identified 3 influential groups who will need to work with national organizations to overcome current policies or prevailing perceptions that may impede implementing national TOR guidelines. (Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2009;2:361-368.)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-368
Number of pages8
JournalCirculation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Death
  • Heart arrest
  • Sudden

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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