Simulation of in-hospital pediatric medical emergencies and cardiopulmonary arrests: Highlighting the importance of the first 5 minutes

Elizabeth A. Hunt, Allen R. Walker, Donald H. Shaffner, Marlene R. Miller, Peter J. Pronovost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES. Outcomes of in-hospital pediatric cardiopulmonary arrest are dismal. Recent data suggest that the quality of basic and advanced life support delivered to adults is low and contributes to poor outcomes, but few data regarding pediatric events have been reported. The objectives of this study were to (1) measure the median elapsed time to initiate important resuscitation maneuvers in simulated pediatric medical emergencies (ie, "mock codes") and (2) identify the types and frequency of errors committed during pediatric mock codes. METHODS. A prospective, observational study was conducted of 34 consecutive hospital-based mock codes. A mannequin or computerized simulator was used to enact unannounced, simulated crisis situations involving children with respiratory distress or insufficiency, respiratory arrest, hemodynamic instability, and/or cardiopulmonary arrest. Assessment included time elapsed to initiation of specific resuscitation maneuvers and deviation from American Heart Association guidelines. RESULTS. Among the 34 mock codes, the median time to assessment of airway and breathing was 1.3 minutes, to administration of oxygen was 2.0 minutes, to assessment of circulation was 4.0 minutes, to arrival of any physician was 3.0 minutes, and to arrival of first member of code team was 6.0 minutes. Among cardiopulmonary arrest scenarios, elapsed time to initiation of compressions was 1.5 minutes and to request for defibrillator was 4.3 minutes. In 75% of mock codes, the team deviated from American Heart Association pediatric basic life support protocols, and in 100% of mock codes there was a communication error. CONCLUSIONS. Alarming delays and deviations occur in the major components of pediatric resuscitation. Future educational and organizational interventions should focus on improving the quality of care delivered during the first 5 minutes of resuscitation. Simulation of pediatric crises can identify targets for educational intervention to improve pediatric cardiopulmonary resuscitation and, ideally, outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e34-e43
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Basic life support
  • Cardiopulmonary arrest
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Pediatric advanced life support
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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