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Shockingly simple? Should you use manual or automated defibrillation in out of hospital cardiac arrest?
  1. Caroline Leech1,
  2. Gavin D Perkins2
  1. 1 Emergency Department, University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust, Coventry, UK
  2. 2 Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Caroline Leech, Emergency Department, University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust, Coventry, UK; caroline.leech{at}

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In their EMJ paper, Derkenne and colleagues present an interesting study on the accuracy and speed of Emergency Physicians in assessing whether a defibrillator trace is shockable or non-shockable.1 The study used a web-based application ( to present 60 ECG rhythms from real-life out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) cases to pre-hospital emergency physicians and compared their responses with a gold standard interpretation defined by three experts. In total, 190 complete responses were included in the analysis which identified a median sensitivity of 0.91 [IQR 0.81–1.00] to deliver a shock for shockable rhythms and specificity of 0.91 [0.80–0.96] to withhold a shock for a non-shockable rhythm. Sensitivity was highest where the shockable rhythm was ventricular tachycardia or coarse ventricular fibrillation (VF) (1.0 [1.0–1.0]) but significantly lower for fine VF (0.6 [0.2–1.0]). We would recommend that you test yourself on the simulator app to see how you would have scored!

This study raises a valuable question: whether pre-hospital practitioners should use an automated external defibrillator (AED) or use manual mode for the interpretation of rhythm and need for shock delivery in patients with OHCA. Emergency Physicians (EPs) manage patients conveyed to the Emergency Department in cardiac arrest on a daily–weekly basis and defibrillators are used in manual mode—the same skills are likely to be transferrable to the pre-hospital setting with a smaller team. However, in many settings. the majority of OHCA management is provided by paramedics and some Emergency Medical Services (EMS) insist that the …

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  • Handling editor Ellen J Weber

  • Twitter @leechcaroline

  • Contributors Both authors have contributed equally to this manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests GDP has volunteer roles with the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation, Resuscitation Council UK and European Resuscitation Council. He is an Editor for the journal Resuscitation.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Linked Articles

  • Original research
    Clément Derkenne Daniel Jost Florian Roquet Pascal Corpet Benoit Frattini Romain Kedzierewicz Guillaume Bellec Benjamin Rajon Marianne Fernandez Thomas Loeb Emmanuel Pierantoni Antoine Lamblin Bertrand Prunet On behalf of the Paris Fire Brigade Cardiac Arrest Task Force Daniel Jost Frederic Lemoine Vincent Lanoe Benoit Frattini Eric Gauyat Sabine Lemoine Frederic Briche Xavier Lesaffre Laure Alhanati Jean-Paul Freiermuth Romain Kedzierewicz Albane Miron De L’espinay Ludovic Delhaye Olga Maurin Clément Derkenne Romain Jouffroy Laurent Prieux Olivier Yavari Vivien Hong Olivier Stibbe Stéphane Travers Bertrand Prunet