Hospital may be the wrong place if you have a heart attack


A British doctor is questioning the convention of taking heart attack patients to hospital.

"Hospitals have nothing to offer almost all such patients beyond the care that is provided by a well-trained and equipped ambulance service," says Professor of Emergency Care at the University of the West of England, Jonathan Benger.

In Britain, less than 10% of patients admitted with a heart attack survive to be discharged from hospital.

Professor Berger argues that hospitals might be harmful to the "vast majority" of patients, who are best administered to by emergency staff trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and then taken to a "heart attack" centre for care if they recover.

But the chairman of emergency medicine at the University of Texas Health Sciences Centre, Bruce Adams, warns not going to hospital could lead to unnecessary deaths. The rules for deciding when to stop resuscitation are fallible, he says, and survival rates vary depending on geography and the quality of care. He says CPR research is advancing "and may change our definition of who is and who is not salvageable".

What's more, not going to hospital could also possibly lead to a lower rate of organ donations (in the US an estimated 5% of all organs harvested are from legally brain dead patients who received CPR).

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