Heart Month: Hospital implements new CPR training program to keep skills sharp

By Kristy Bleizeffer Feb 1, 2017

Tamara Thomson, a nurse on the surgical unit, practices on an RQI Simuation Station at the "superuser" training on Tuesday.

In the case of a true cardiac arrest – when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops working – time is of the essence. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) needs to start immediately.

Even still, chances of surviving a cardiac arrest remain slim. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the survival rate of people who suffer cardiac arrests outside of a hospital setting in 2016 was just 12 percent. The in-hospital survival rate was just more than double at 24.8 percent.

To help improve patient care and safety, Wyoming Medical Center is implementing the AHA’s Resuscitation Quality Improvement® Program, a new training approach to maintaining CPR skills in the healthcare setting. We are the first hospital in the state to implement the program.

Right now, all clinical staff – nurses, nursing assistants, paramedics and anyone directly involved with patient care – are required to renew their Basic Life Support or Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support certifications every two years. These include training in CPR. But most healthcare workers rarely have to perform CPR outside of this training. That can cause the skills to degrade from lack of practice.

The RQI system will require clinical staff to test their resuscitation skills every quarter. While full recertification training can take several hours, practicing on the RQI system will take 10 to 15 minutes during a clinical worker’s shift.

“It will make staff feel more confident, more competent and ready to go if ever confronted with a patient requiring resuscitation,” said Andrew Sundell, clinical educator.

Wyoming Medical Center has five RQI Simulation Stations that include a computer for visual and verbal instructions and feedback along with adult and infant manikins. These will be located throughout the hospital. The system measures and gives real-time feedback on rate and depth of compressions, incidence of long pauses and other indicators.

On Tuesday, RQI program administrators trained Wyoming Medical Center’s “super users,” clinical staff members that will help facilitate the program throughout the hospital and train coworkers in their departments.

Marcia Cook, a nurse on the medical floor, doesn’t encounter full cardiac arrest on her floor very often. That’s why she believes this approach will be helpful not only to her, but to the nurses on her floor whom she will help train on RQI.

“Having to do CPR every three months, instead of every two years, will give me more confidence when I do have to do it,” she said.

Dellane Sample, an OR nurse and member of the heart team agreed. “It will improve people’s skills when they are training quarterly.”

RQI is just starting to get back data from hospitals who have adopted the program, but so far the results are encouraging, said Dana Cash, an RQI program executive. For example, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas was the first hospital in the world to implement the program in 2014 when nationally less than 1 in 5 in-hospital patients who experience cardiac arrest survived. Texas Health increased its survival rate by 21 percent within two years of implementing RQI, Cash said.

RQI is a program of the American Heart Association in partnership with Laerdal (a manufacturer of medical training products) and HealthStream (an online learning tool for healthcare workers). 

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