Causes of Chest Compression Interruptions During OHCA



Interruptions in chest compressions contribute to poor outcomes in out‐of‐hospital cardiac arrest. The objective of this retrospective observational cohort study was to characterize the frequency, reasons, and duration of interruptions in chest compressions and to determine if interruptions changed over time.

Methods and Results

All out‐of‐hospital cardiac arrests treated by the Seattle Fire Department (Seattle, WA, United States) from 2007 to 2016 with capture of recordings from automated external defibrillators and manual defibrillators were included. Compression interruptions >1 second were classified into categories using audio recordings. Among the 3601 eligible out‐of‐hospital cardiac arrests, we analyzed 74 584 minutes, identifying 30 043 pauses that accounted for 6621 minutes (8.9% of total resuscitation duration). The median total interruption duration per case decreased from 115 seconds in 2007 to 72 seconds in 2016 (P<0.0001). Median individual interruption duration decreased from 14 seconds in 2007 to 7 seconds in 2016 (P<0.0001). Among interruptions >10 seconds, median interruption duration decreased from 20 seconds in 2007 to 16 seconds in 2016 (P<0.0001). Cardiac rhythm analysis accounted for most compression interruptions. Manual ECG rhythm analysis and pulse checks accounted for 41.6% of all interruption time (median individual interruption, 8 seconds), automated external defibrillator rhythm analysis for 13.7% (median, 17 seconds), and manual rhythm analysis and shock delivery for 8.0% (median, 9 seconds).


Median duration of chest compression interruptions decreased by half from 2007 to 2016, indicating that care teams can significantly improve performance. Reducing compression interruptions is an evidence‐based benchmark that provides a modifiable process quality improvement goal.

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