The epidemiology of respiratory arrests in a teaching hospital

Alan J Husband, Inga Mercer, Karen Detering, Glenn M Eastwood, Daryl Andrew Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


We aimed to characterise antecedent causes and outcomes of respiratory arrests occurring within a metropolitan tertiary teaching hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Methods: We conducted a retrospective audit of respiratory arrests within our hospital over a 6-year period. Data were collected regarding patient characteristics, preceding clinical state, presumed causes and outcomes of arrests. We also compared outcomes of respiratory arrests to that of cardiac arrests occurring over the same period. Results: We identified 82 respiratory arrests, occurring at a rate of 0.57/1000 inpatient admissions. Preexisting respiratory, neurologic and cardiac disease was common, as was multi-morbidity. Preceding clinical instability was evident in 39 of arrests, most commonly elevated respiratory rate or progressive hypoxia. Pulmonary oedema was the most common cause of respiratory arrest followed by aspiration, neurologic events, medication side-effects, and tracheostomy-tube complications. In-hospital mortality for respiratory arrests was 25.1 , compared with 74.9 for cardiac arrests (p <0.001) over the same time period. Conclusions: Although rare, respiratory arrests are associated with significantly lower in-hospital mortality than cardiac arrests. Further studies are needed to better predict respiratory arrests and identify interventions to reduce incidence and improve outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364 - 368
Number of pages5
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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