Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

The Fatal Flaw in Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR


Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR — NEJM

In conclusion, among patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in whom CPR was performed by EMS providers, a strategy of continuous chest compressions with positive-pressure ventilation did not result in significantly higher rates of survival or favorable neurologic status than the rates with a strategy of chest compressions interrupted for ventilation.[1]


This is not a study that has a valid control group to determine if there is any benefit from ventilation. There is no group that does not receive ventilations, so it is like a study of one type of blood-letting vs. another type of blood-letting with the researchers taking for granted that blood-letting does improve outcomes. That is not a problem if blood-letting actually improves outcomes.

Should we take it for granted that blood-letting improves outcomes and that the only hypothesis worth studying is which brand to choose?

Should we assume that ventilations are too sacred to ever be doubted?

Should we assume that there are better arguments for ventilations than for blood-letting? That is not true.

If we ignore this fatal flaw, the study is very well done. I really like the study design. It is an excellent example of how to study two different versions of an intervention after that intervention has been demonstrated to improve outcomes, but ventilations have never been demonstrated to improve outcomes in adult patients with cardiac causes of cardiac arrest.

Should we have assumed that blood-letting was too sacred to ever be doubted?

We do know that outcomes for seizure patients improve when EMS gives benzodiazepines, because some people cared enough to find out.[2]

Assuming that a treatment is too important to study is like building on a foundation in a swamp.


We still do not know if there is any benefit from including ventilations, because the study design assumes that we don’t want to know.

There is no good reason to believe that ventilations improve outcomes for adult patients with cardiac causes of cardiac arrest. This study has not done anything to change that.

Our patients deserve better. Why aren’t we finding out what improves outcomes?


[1] Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR.
Nichol G, Leroux B, Wang H, Callaway CW, Sopko G, Weisfeldt M, Stiell I, Morrison LJ, Aufderheide TP, Cheskes S, Christenson J, Kudenchuk P, Vaillancourt C, Rea TD, Idris AH, Colella R, Isaacs M, Straight R, Stephens S, Richardson J, Condle J, Schmicker RH, Egan D, May S, Ornato JP; ROC Investigators.
N Engl J Med. 2015 Nov 9. [Epub ahead of print]
PMID: 26550795

Free Full Text from NEJM.

[2] A comparison of lorazepam, diazepam, and placebo for the treatment of out-of-hospital status epilepticus.
Alldredge BK, Gelb AM, Isaacs SM, Corry MD, Allen F, Ulrich S, Gottwald MD, O’Neil N, Neuhaus JM, Segal MR, Lowenstein DH.
N Engl J Med. 2001 Aug 30;345(9):631-7. Erratum in: N Engl J Med 2001 Dec 20;345(25):1860.
PMID: 11547716 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from N Engl J Med. with link to PDF Download.

Nichol, G., Leroux, B., Wang, H., Callaway, C., Sopko, G., Weisfeldt, M., Stiell, I., Morrison, L., Aufderheide, T., Cheskes, S., Christenson, J., Kudenchuk, P., Vaillancourt, C., Rea, T., Idris, A., Colella, R., Isaacs, M., Straight, R., Stephens, S., Richardson, J., Condle, J., Schmicker, R., Egan, D., May, S., & Ornato, J. (2015). Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR New England Journal of Medicine DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1509139

Alldredge BK,, Gelb AM,, Isaacs SM,, Corry MD,, Allen F,, Ulrich S,, Gottwald MD,, O’Neil N,, Neuhaus JM,, Segal MR,, & Lowenstein DH. (2001). A Comparison of Lorazepam, Diazepam, and Placebo for the Treatment of Out-of-Hospital Status Epilepticus New England Journal of Medicine, 345 (25), 1860-1860 DOI: 10.1056/NEJM200112203452521



  1. Rogue, I have a tremendous amount of respect for your writing. However, there are many things in your blog that are not correct.


  1. […] [1] The Fatal Flaw in Trial of Continuous or Interrupted Chest Compressions during CPR Wed, 25 Nov 2015 10:15:20 by Rogue Medic Article […]

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