OBJECTIVE: To analyse the effect on outcome of referral to specialist facilities after cardiopulmonary arrest in a general ward. METHODS: A retrospective analysis of resuscitation records of 743 patients in whom cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed in a general ward between 1988 and 1992. After successful initial cardiopulmonary resuscitation, patients were identified as transferred to coronary care unit (CCU) or intensive care unit (ITU), or as staying in a general ward. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Survival to discharge home. RESULTS: There were 322 initial survivors, of whom 148 (20% of the overall total) survived to be discharged from hospital; 63% of those transferred to CCU and 48% of those transferred to ITU survived to discharge, compared with 28% of those who stayed on the ward (P < 0.001). Of those aged less than 65 years, 75% survived to discharge after transfer to CCU and 54% after transfer to ITU, compared with 44% of those who stayed on the ward (P = 0.023); the respective figures for those over 65 years were: CCU 25%, ITU 34%, ward 25% (P = 0.014). Only half of those aged more than 65 years were transferred to a specialist facility, compared with 90% of those aged less than 65. CONCLUSIONS: Transfer to a specialist care facility after resuscitation from cardiopulmonary arrest has an influence on outcome. Age as an independent factor is not an appropriate criterion to use in deciding on transfer. The decision to arrange transfer must always be taken by the most experienced person available, and in line with peer reviewed guidelines.
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