Critical Care and Shock

Use and Understanding of Therapeutic Hypothermia in Developing Countries

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Purpose: The use of therapeutic hypothermia (TH) has increased in the treatment of comatose victims of cardiac arrest, traumatic brain injury, refractory dysrhythmias, neonatal encephalopathy and asphyxia, near-drowning and hemorrhagic shock. The purpose of this study was to ascertain the level of understanding of TH use for comatose victims of cardiac arrest among healthcare providers in two developing countries.

Methods: A 22-question survey was administered to physicians, nurses, and other health professionals who attended two large emergency medicine and critical care meetings in Indonesia and Mexico. The questionnaire included socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents. Specific questions regarding TH awareness and its use were included, as well as questions examining familiarity with the current recommendations from International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR)

Results: Two hundred and sixty-six surveys were collected from the two countries. Of all respondents, 15.54% had used TH: 37.8% were nurses and 31.58% physicians (p=0.012). TH was used most frequently administered in the coronary care unit and the emergency department (55% and 45%, p=0.005). Eight percent of all respondents had TH protocols established at their institutions, mostly by nursing personnel (80% p=0.009). Practitioners reported they were not familiar with the ILCOR guidelines (97% of the respondents from Mexico and 87% of the respondents from Indonesia (p=0.009)). Among those using TH, active rewarming was used by 71% of respondents queried in Indonesia as compared with 38% of respondents surveyed in Mexico (p=0.001).

Conclusions: TH appears underutilized in our sample of practitioners from two developing countries. Clinicians in these countries are not familiar with ILCOR TH guidelines. Therapeutic hypothermia is certainly practical in most clinical settings and programs aimed at educating practitioners about TH are needed in developing countries to improve neurological outcome in comatose victims of cardiac arrest.

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