The Withholding of Therapeutic Hypothermia =’s Malpractice?

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), whom has has finally endorsed Therapeutic Hypothermia as the standard treatment for unconscious survivors of sudden cardiac arrest, the answer may be “YES” especially in situations where a hospital continues to avoid this now proven treatment.

Such endorsement by the AHA, is based in pertinent part upon previously published research, stemming back to 2002.

In 2002 the New England Journal of Medicine, reported favorable brain functioning in patients who were cooled following resuscitation after having a heart attack.

In 2003, the AHA issued a recommendation that unconscious adult patients should be cooled for 12 to 24 hours following resuscitation.

In 2005, the AHA issued Guidelines for Caridopulmonary Resusciation, outlining the following concerning therapeutic hypothermia:

Postresuscitation Interventions.

The major new recommendation in this area is therapeutic hypothermia for patients who have experienced an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in VF, have been resuscitated, and are hemodynamically stable but unresponsive on hospital admission. Therapeutic cooling for 24 hours to 32-34 degrees C has been shown in several studies to result in improved neurologic recovery compared with patients after a similar arrest who have not been cooled. For this specific group of patients, a class IIa recommendation was assigned; for patients with non-VF arrests or for in-hospital arrests, a class IIb recommendation was given, primarily because no data are available for these patients. (See Mayo Clin. Pro, June 2006; 81(6): 736-740).

By 2006, there could be no more dispute that therapeutic hypothermia significantly improves complete recovery of normal brain function, and it had become accepted practice at many hospitals in the United States and around the world.

According to Mark E. Brauner DO, Staff Phyisican at the Department of Emergency Medicine at Ohio State University College of Medicine, hospitals do not even need experience with hypothermia to be successful as “[T]he basic framework for clinical protocols are well-established. . .”

In sum, over the course of the last five years, the standard of care at every hospital has slowly evolved to include therapeutic hypothermia for unconscious patients who have been revived after suffering a heart attack. The outcomes from using therapeutic hyptothermia for these patients are clearly superior. If hospitals have yet to include this standard treatment, they are not only putting their patients’ lives and future recovery at risk, they are committing malpractice.

If you or someone you know has been harmed as a result of the withholding of therapeutic hypothermia, please contact our law-firm immediately for a free consultation.