Every five years, the American Heart Association makes recommendations and offers improved guidelines for delivering life-saving care. In late 2010, this national organization once again released updated recommendations for healthcare professionals receiving advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) training or ACLS recertification.
ACLS is a strategic and organized set of clinical interventions developed to provide urgent treatment to patients of sudden cardiac arrest. Knowledge and hands-on training are necessary to perform ACLS effectively. Therefore, it’s equally as necessary to comprehend the revised guidelines to ACLS.
Here are two of the key changes:
1. The use of atropine is revised and influences ACLS training online and in person.
2005 recommendation: Atropine, a heart stimulant, was included in the algorithm for ACLS pulseless arrest if the patient was in asytole or slow PEA.
2010 recommendation: Atropine is no longer included in the algorithm. Instead, adenosine, used to bring the heart back to a normal rhythm, is recommended in the initial diagnosis and treatment of stable, undifferentiated regular, monomorphic wide-complex tachycardia.
Why: Evidenced-based research revealed that routine use of atropine during PEA or asytole is unlikely to have therapeutic benefits.
ACLS training includes new recommendations for treating intubated patients.
2005 recommendation: An exhaled carbon dioxide detector was recommended to confirm an endotracheal tube was placed correctly.
2010 recommendation: Continuous quantitative waveform capnography is no recommended for intubated patients. Waveform capnography now offers recommendations for confirming tracheal tube placement as well.
Why: Continuous waveform capnography is the most reliable method of confirming and monitoring the correct placement of an endotracheal tube.
Looking for more information about online training, ACLS, PALS or a variety of other first aid and life support courses? Health Education Solutions’ (HES) PALS and ACLS online training courses and recertification materials incorporate the new guidelines (in the first quarter of 2011). HES offers the ACLS course, PALS course, and resource materials created with Union College for medical professionals and others who want to be prepared in a medical emergency.