CPR procedure with training dummyEven for medical teams, saving a life with CPR isn’t easy.

More than 600,000 cardiac arrests occur each year and fewer than 15 percent of victims survive, a figure that increases to 23 percent when the cardiac arrest occurs in the hospital.

“Despite everyone’s best effort when we respond to an arrest, the quality of CPR that is provided is often inconsistent,” said Michael Kurz, M.D. M.S., associate professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama.

Basic and advanced life support skills for medical workers are evaluated every two years under current requirements, but research shows that may not be often enough to ensure that the CPR implemented is high quality. Psychomotor skills related to performing resuscitation can erode in as little as three to six months.

To help healthcare providers better maintain their resuscitation skills and improve patient outcomes, the American Heart Association has developed the subscription-based Resuscitation Quality Improvement Program.

RQI provides the same cognitive and skills modules as a traditional CPR program. The difference is that it occurs quarterly rather than every two years.

“We created RQI to teach healthcare providers high-quality CPR in a more effective way that drives them to practice and retain these skills with confidence – in a more concise and convenient way,” said Robert W. Neumar, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the University of Michigan Medical School’s Department of Emergency Medicine, and chair of AHA’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee.

Students test cognitive components online and then test their psychomotor skills at mobile simulation stations equipped with adult and infant manikins. The stations provide real-time data on how they’re doing, reinforcing technique and offering suggestions for improvement.

Because the stations are mobile, training time is more efficient and doesn’t require classroom time away from work.

The data allows students to see what they need to do to improve, said Kurz, who is also a member of the AHA’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care committee Systems of Care subcommittee.

“We watch the quality of CPR just drop off after about 2 minutes, especially for folks who have not been trained or not trained recently,” he said. “The beauty of the RQI system is that you get refreshed every three months.”

Early RQI adopters include, Texas Health Resources, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center of Dallas and University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Staff, who underwent the training, also reported feeling more confident delivering CPR to adults and infants afterward.

By moving to a training program that focuses on maintaining skill competency over shorter intervals, Kurz said RQI would help drive quality resuscitation and deliver better patient outcomes.

“Using RQI, our staff can achieve higher CPR proficiency in less time, for less cost, and with better skill retention,” he said.