Initiation of therapeutic hypothermia in the emergency department: A quality improvement project


Therapeutic hypothermia (TH) postresuscitation has been recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) since 2005. Early initiation of TH and fast achievement of goal temperatures have been associated with better neurological outcomes. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a specific TH protocol for the emergency department (ED) in increasing ED use of TH and decreasing the time from return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) to initiation of cooling measures. An ED protocol for TH as recommended by the AHA was implemented. A random sample of 10 patients who received TH prior to the implementation of an ED protocol were analyzed and compared with the first 10 patients who received TH after the ED protocol was implemented. The time from ROSC to initiation of cooling measures and survival to discharge rates were analyzed. After implementation of the ED protocol, 7 of the 10 patients were treated with the ED protocol. The mean time to initiation of TH for the preimplementation group was 127.8 min (SD = 52.9) compared with 15.71 min (SD = 9.552) for the postimplementation group. The difference in initiation time between the pre- and postimplementation study groups was statistically significant, t(9.826) = 6.55, p < 0.05. Survival to discharge rates were 30% for the preimplementation group and 20% for the postimplementation group. The difference was not statistically significant, Χ2 (1, N = 20) = 0.73, p = 0.78. Implementation of an ED protocol for TH reduced mean time to initiation of therapy. Additional study is warranted to determine whether differences in survival and functional recovery for ED patients receiving TH were influenced by age, comorbidities, and total resuscitation time.


School of Nursing

Document Type





Critical care, Emergency department, Post-cardiac arrest, Resuscitation, Therapeutic hypothermia

Publication Date


Journal Title

Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal