Schein et al identified a number of clinical findings that may precede a cardiopulmonary arrest. These can help to identify a patient who may benefit from closer monitoring and more aggressive management. The authors are from the Veterans Administration Medical Center and University of Miami in Miami, Florida.


Patient selection: inpatients who had a cardiopulmonary arrest on a general medicine ward


Conditions appearing within 8 hours of the arrest may include deterioration in respiratory function, change in mental function and/or miscellaneous changes.


Deterioration in respiratory function may include:

(1) difficult or labored breathing

(2) increase in the respiratory rate (tachypnea)

(3) shortness of breath (dyspnea)

(4) shallow breathing


Change in mental function may include:

(1) agitation

(2) lethargy

(3) altered mental status


Other changes included:

(1) comfort-related complaints

(2) gastrointestinal complaints



• The findings are nonspecific.

• The analysis was retrospective.


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