When healthcare providers are evaluating and upgrading their resuscitation programs, they often focus on cardiac care. That’s understandable, since even in the medical community resuscitation is often seen as primarily focused around patients presenting with heart attacks or other cardiac-related issues. However, this lifesaving activity is vital to improve outcomes in many other patient conditions as well, says Dr. David Markenson, Chief Medical Officer for the American Red Cross Training Services and Medical Director at the New York Medical College Center for Disease Medicine, which he co-founded in 2005.
Much of the materials and guidelines that inform resuscitation training comes from the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation, or ILCOR, he explains, and since that entity is focused on cardiac resuscitation, it will have that main focus in its programs. Still, he notes, ‘”It’s not just cardiac arrest that needs resuscitation; it may be shock from sepsis or bleeding, and so there are many areas for which we need evidence-based guidelines in our programs that ILCOR would not address.”
“That’s why the American Red Cross has a Scientific Advisory Council, alongside an Innovation Council made up of thought leaders and innovators from EMS providers, as well as major and small healthcare systems, to guide the organization,” says Dr. Markenson, who also is a pediatric emergency medicine and pediatric critical care physician, as well as being internationally recognized as a pioneer and leader in disaster medicine, health system and preparedness and education, public health preparedness, and operational medicine.
Different study groups ensure the most robust resuscitation programs
A broad approach stems from the fact that the Scientific Advisory Council is divided into multiple subgroups, covering everything from education to disaster preparedness. The healthcare experts who dedicate their time to them hail from a broad range of groups: emergency medicine, nursing care and education, special population, pediatric, and more.
“Clearly, [cardiac-arrest] resuscitation programs are a leader, but our spectrum is broader than that,” Dr. Markenson says. “When we look at designing education, it's based on broad experience. We think it's important to empower healthcare providers and EMS professionals to actually perform high-quality resuscitation. We recognize they're going to see resuscitation needs from the full spectrum of emergencies and urgencies. As a result, we make sure that our training prepared them not just for cardiac arrest or a tachyarrhythmia but from all the causes that they might see. While the resuscitation steps may be similar, you have to understand as a healthcare provider all the possible causes so when you see it in clinical care, you are empowered and have the confidence to act effectively, and so that is a key piece of our education and a key piece of our course design.”
Additionally, course designers recognize that those involved in resuscitation fall across multiple disciplines. Any education has to meet their needs and is based on the concept of interdisciplinary care of patients.
“That's why we look at physicians, advanced practice professionals, nursing, pre-hospital professions, technicians, and combat personnel,” he says. “We tailor our courses so that they can be delivered across audiences. Unless you present that broad group of causes to your students, they may know the skills of resuscitation well [for cardiac arrest] but what about when the need for it is shock, bleeding, sepsis, an ingestion, or an opioid overdose? If that had not been part of a scenario, a discussion and an education class, they may know the right steps to manage the airway, breathing, and circulation — but may be impeded because they've never had the experience of that broad-based need for resuscitation. From an educational perspective, we think that is critically important.”
Learn more about the American Red Cross Resuscitation Suite ™ for BLS, ALS and PALS.
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