Factors influencing termination of resuscitative efforts in children: A comparison of pediatric emergency medicine and adult emergency medicine physicians

Philip V. Scribano, M. Douglas Baker, Stephen Ludwig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objectives: To examine factors that influence termination of resuscitative efforts (TORE) and compare pediatric emergency medicine (PEM) and general emergency medicine (GEM) physicians regarding TORE in children. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Participants: All physicians board-certified in PEM as of November 1993 and a random sample of board-certified GEM physicians listed in the 1993 American College of Emergency Physicians directory. Interventions: Self-administered questionnaires were mailed to participants who were asked about experience providing pediatric cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and demographic information. We posed a series of management questions eliciting factors that influence TORE decision-making in single context and case scenario format. Specific emphasis was placed on the influence of time and epinephrine dosing. Results: One hundred and sixty (70%) PEM and 127 (62%) GEM responded. These groups differed significantly in years of experience (PEM 8.2, GEM 11.8), urban practice setting (PEM 84%, GEM 32%) and number of pediatric cardiopulmonary resuscitations per year (PEM 10.6, GEM 4.8), P < 0.001 for all. There were no significant differences between groups regarding features pathognomonic of death. PEM were more likely to consider low blood pH and iatrogenic causes of arrest as factors influencing TORE; GEM were more likely to consider co- morbid conditions (P < 0.05 for all). Medians for time estimates of minimum minutes of pulselessness that influence TORE were: PEM 26 to 30 minutes, GEM 31 to 35 minutes for both prehospital and emergency department settings (P < 0.05 for each). Approximately 20% of all respondents did not place a strict limit on time of pulselessness when determining TORE. No difference was observed between groups regarding maximum doses of epinephrine used prior to TORE. However, fewer GEM (50%) than PEM (75%) utilize 'high dose' epinephrine according to current Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) guidelines (P < 0.05). PEM physicians were more than two times more likely to terminate resuscitative efforts if return of spontaneous circulation was not achieved by 25 minutes compared to GEM physicians for both prehospital time of pulselessness [odds ratio 2.1, 95 % confidence interval (1.01, 4.5)] and emergency department time of pulselessness [odds ratio 2.2, confidence interval (1.1, 4.6)]. Conclusions: 1) Several laboratory and clinical factors significantly influence physician's decisions regarding TORE; 2) regardless of setting, time of pulselessness does appear to be an influential factor in determining when to terminate resuscitation in children for most physicians; 3) PEM physicians are more likely to terminate resuscitative efforts than are GEM physicians if return of spontaneous circulation is not achieved by 25 minutes; 4) a significant number of PEM and GEM physicians do not use high dose epinephrine in accordance with current PALS recommendations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-324
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric emergency care
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitaton
  • Resuscitation efforts termination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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