Estimated Cost-Effectiveness of Dispatcher CPR Instruction via Telephone to Bystanders During Out-of-Hospital Ventricular Fibrillation

Terence D. Valenzuela, Daniel W. Spaite, Lani L. Clark, Harvey W. Meislin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Hypothesis: Emergency cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instruction via telephone (ETCPR) is cost-effective compared to prehospital, emergency medical technicial (EMT)/paramedic treatment alone of witnessed, ventricular fibrillation (VE) in adult patients. Methods: A total of 118 patients, age >18 years, with prehospital, witnessed ventricular fibrillation were studied. Patient data were extracted from hospital records, monitor-defibrillator recordings, paramedic reports, dispatching records, and telephone interviews with bystanders. No ETCPR was available during this period. The costs of ETCPR implementation were estimated retrospectively. Marginal cost of the paramedic service attributable to treatment of VF was calculated from fire department records. Years-of-life saved were estimated from age, gender, and race matched norms. Results: Of the 53 patients receiving bystander CPR (BCPR), 14 (26%) survived to hospital discharge versus 4/65 patients (6%) lacking BCPR These groups did not differ significantly (p>.05) in age, EMS response times, or time from collapse to defibrillation. The mean time interval from collapse to CPR was significantly less for patients with BCPR (1.8 min) than for patients without BCPR (7.1 min). Had all patients received BCPR and survived at the rate of 0.26, 13 additional patients would have survived to hospital discharge. The cost per year-of-life saved by the EMS system with ETCPR would have been [US1$2,834 versus $4,881 without ETCPR The cost per additional year-of-life saved by ETCPR was estimated to be $560 in patients experiencing out-of-hospital ventricular fibrillation. Conclusion: The use of ETCPR instruction of callers by 9-1-1 dispatchers potentially is a cost-effective addition to a two-tier, EMS system for treatment of prehospital ventricular fibrillation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-233
Number of pages5
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1992


  • CPR telephone instruction
  • bystander CPR
  • cardiac arrest
  • cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • cost-effectiveness
  • prehospital
  • response times
  • survival
  • ventricular fibrillation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Emergency


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