A procedure called therapeutic hypothermia, in which the temperature of the body is brought down significantly, is believed to be very beneficial for persons who have suffered cardiac arrest in a hospital. In fact, outside hospitals, the technique is used with great success to help treat persons who have suffered a heart attack. However, a new study finds that very few hospitals are actually using this technique whose benefits have been confirmed by research.
The results of the study were published recently in the journal Critical Care Medicine. Therapeutic hypothermia involves the cooling of the body temperature to approximately 89.6°F. This is done to protect the brain from damage from the blockage of blood flow to the brain and oxygenation. Earlier research has indicated that this therapy increases the chances of survival of the patient. In fact, this procedure has saved the lives of a number of persons who have suffered cardiac arrest outside hospitals.
However, according to the recent research, although the treatment is being used very extensively to treat patients who have suffered a heart attack in their own homes or outside the hospital, there was very little information about how often these procedures are used inside a hospital. Researchers further investigated this and found that even though many hospitals are capable of treating patients using therapeutic hypothermia, the procedure is hardly used in hospitals. Even when the procedure is used, it is being used incorrectly and the optimal temperature is not being achieved in most cases.
The researchers based their findings on an analysis of data involving more than 67,000 patients who suffered a heart attack at 530 hospitals. The data involved patients who suffered heart attacks between 2003 and 2009. The data revealed that the use of therapeutic hypothermia was pitifully low with just about 2% of patients actually received this treatment.
Part of the reason for this lukewarm attitude towards therapeutic cooling could be that despite research confirming the benefits of the therapy, some of the research is conflicting. In addition, although national guidelines encourage clinicians to consider the use of therapeutic cooling, there is a lack of proper established protocols regarding its use. As a result, many doctors are simply hesitant to use the treatment because of the lack of guidelines available.
Heart attacks kill thousands of American patients in hospitals every year. Therapies designed to benefit the patient and decrease related mortality should be investigated.
The Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy LLP represent persons who have suffered injuries as a result of medical negligence by doctors, nurses and other medical personnel at hospitals across Indiana. If you have been injured as a result of medical negligence at a medical facility in Indiana, speak with an attorney at our firm. Initial consultations are free.