JAPhA study: Pharmacists improve documentation on cardiac arrest teams

Study notes greater adherence with advanced cardiovascular life support guidelines

Integrating pharmacists on a hospital’s cardiac arrest team for documentation and pharmacotherapy consultation results in more complete documentation and greater adherence with American Heart Association Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) guidelines, say researchers in a study published online in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.

In their article, the researchers described an innovative practice wherein pharmacists at Yale–New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT, received training and education in ACLS and assumed responsibility for recording all activities during cardiac arrest events, including medications administered, intubation, and vital signs—documentation tasks previously assigned to nurses. The pharmacists also assisted physicians and nurses in providing real-time quality assurance during cardiac arrest events, including ensuring ACLS adherence with the timing, dosage, and frequency of medications and electrical defibrillation.

When the researchers compared pre- and post-intervention data on cardiac arrest team events they found that the percentage of forms with all documentation complete jumped from 0% at baseline to 28%, and ACLS adherence rose from 8% to 31%. Looking only at cardiac arrest events that took place on weekdays, the researchers saw a more pronounced improvement in ACLS adherence, from 0% to 59%.

Other aspects of care improved when a pharmacist was present, with shorter duration of cardiac arrest and shorter times to first defibrillation, first vasopressor, and intubation, although the authors note these outcomes did not reach statistical significance.