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Treatment of cardiac arrest may depend on nature of condition

If someone close to you has suffered death or debilitation due to cardiac arrest, you understand that Hollywood paints an inaccurate picture of this condition. According to movies and television, doctors just need to find the right level of electricity to coax the heart into beating again.

In reality, only about 15 percent of hospital patients who suffer cardiac arrest are successfully resuscitated without suffering severe brain damage. The majority of patients die.

The myths about the success of defibrillators cause surviving family members confusion after an instance of cardiac arrest. They often feel that ER staff didn't do enough to resuscitate their loved one. To know whether hospital staff acted appropriately in a particular situation, you may need to know what type of cardiac arrest was involved.

Types of cardiac arrest include:

  • Ventricular fibrillation, an electrical disturbance that can often be treated by electrical jolts.
  • Ventricular tachycardia, an electrical disturbance that can often be treated by electrical jolts.
  • Pulseless electrical activity, an electrocardiogram indicates that the heart should be beating normally, but it isn't. Resuscitation is only successful about 3 percent of the time.

Aside from standard defibrillation efforts, much of the medical community has recognized the benefits of therapeutic hypothermia, where the patient's temperature is lowered to reduce brain activity during resuscitation.

Because each situation is different, it is important to speak with a reputable medical malpractice injury with experience handling cardiac arrest cases. He or she will help you determine whether the doctor acted negligently and what legal recourse may be available to you.

Source: Forbes.com, "Are Some Life Saving Treatments Overkill," Peter Ubel, Sept. 10, 2014

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