Because a large number of patients will suffer cardiac arrest each year, physicians must place attention on improving care for patients in the post-resuscitative setting. Part of this effort requires setting realistic goals based on patients' potential for recovery. Recovery from cardiac arrest often depends on the extent of anoxic brain injury, and for this reason primary teams consult neurologists to offer insight into potential for awakening from post-arrest coma. In doing so, neurologists inform a decision with legal, social and ethical implications. Though inapplicable without preparation at the time of cardiac arrest, the four principles of medical ethics have a direct impact on decision making during the post-resuscitative period. A review of the literature reveals that physical examination, electrophysiology, radiology, and biochemical markers can prove useful in estimating a patient's chances for neurological recovery from cardiac arrest. These factors most reliably predict poor outcome, but do so with high specificity. However, the role of the neurology consultant must change to include guidance on strategies of neuroprotection. Aggressive efforts directed towards neuroprotection may change predictions for outcomes after cardiac arrest in the future.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology