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Outcome of patients identified as dead (beyond resuscitation) at the point of the emergency call


Objective: Currently, an emergency ambulance is dispatched to all cardiac arrest victims. This study aimed to determine the outcome of patients with a dispatch code of 09B01 (“obvious death”) and considers the appropriateness of dispatching a non-emergency response.

Methods: Dispatch records, patient report forms, and hospital records were reviewed to determine patient outcome.

Results: Within the one year study period 141 emergency calls were coded as 09B01. Records were obtained for 59 of these cases (42%). Ambulance crews diagnosed 54 as beyond resuscitation (91.5%, 95% CI 79.5% to 96.2%). Three received resuscitation attempts (5.1%, 95% CI 1.1% to 14.2%): two were subsequently pronounced dead at scene and one on arrival at hospital. Two patients were not in cardiac arrest (3.4%, 95% CI 0.4% to 11.7%): one was a transiently unconscious assault victim, and one had a hand injury after a road accident. Three patients coded as 09B01 were transported to hospital for treatment other than confirmation of death (5.1%, 95% CI 1.1% to 14.2%).

Conclusion: Not all patients coded 09B01 by dispatchers are assessed as “dead beyond resuscitation” by attending ambulance crews. Although poor data recovery and a small sample size limited the study, its findings suggest that it is inappropriate to allocate a non-emergency response to 09B01 (obvious death) calls.

  • cardiac arrest
  • telephone triage
  • emergency medical dispatch
  • diagnosis of death
  • CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • PRF, patient report forms
  • MPDS, Medical Priority Dispatch System

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