Survey of pediatric resident experiences with resuscitation training and attendance at actual cardiopulmonary arrests

Elizabeth A. Hunt, Sachin Patel, Kimberly Vera, Donald H. Shaffner, Peter J. Pronovost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The literature suggests pediatric residents are inadequately prepared to perform resuscitation maneuvers when a child suffers a cardiopulmonary arrest (CPA). Our objective was to characterize the resuscitation training and CPA resuscitation experience of residents, including hands on experience with discharging a defibrillator. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: Tertiary care, academic pediatric residency program. Subjects: Pediatric residents. Measurements and Main Results: Seventy-six of 80 (95%) pediatric residents responded. The median (interquartile range) number of CPAs attended increased significantly by level of training, with some attending as many as 20 CPAs during residency (postgraduate year [PGY]1: 2.0 [1.0-3.0] vs. PGY2: 5.0 [3.0-8.0] vs. PGY3: 10.0 [5.0-12.0], p < 0.001). Nine of 25 (36%) senior residents had led a resuscitation. The proportion of third-year residents who had attended at least 1 CPA in the following locations was: general ward 20 of 25 (80%), Emergency Department 18 of 25 (72%), Neonatal intensive care unit 24 of 25 (96%), pediatric intensive care unit 23 of 25 (92%), and secondary training hospital 19 of 25 (76%). Twelve of 76 (16%) residents had discharged a defibrillator on an actual patient; however, 25 of 76 (33%) had never discharged a defibrillator, either on a patient or during training exercises. Although most residents had received required training in American Heart Association Basic Life Support and Pediatric Advance Life Support (i.e., BLS and PALS), 6 of 76 (8%) residents had never taken basic life support and 4 of 48 (8%) of upper level residents had never taken pediatric advanced life support. Multivariate analysis revealed that level of training, pediatric advanced life support training, and attendance at a mock code in the past year were not independently associated with having discharged a defibrillator (i.e., patient, mannequin, etc.), whereas attendance at an institutional Code Team training course was. Conclusions: Almost every pediatric resident was involved in attempting to resuscitate a child suffering a CPA, yet many were inadequately trained to respond. Formal mechanisms are needed to guarantee adequate resuscitation training for pediatric residents, especially regarding participation in basic life support and hands on defibrillator training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-105
Number of pages10
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Cardiopulmonary arrest
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Defibrillation
  • Graduate medical education
  • Internship
  • Pediatrics
  • Residency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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