In the field of nursing, there are many different things you will need to learn before you can begin administering care. Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), for example, are two courses that are mandatory for many nurses working in the United States, as well as nurses working elsewhere around the world.
Developing effective ACLS and BLS skills will be very important. These courses, which can sometimes be bundled together, help prepare nurses and other medical professionals to take action in the event of a sudden medical emergency. If a patient is experiencing cardiac arrest, for example, they might not have time to call someone else for backup—they will need to recognize the situation at hand, identify the appropriate treatment option, and then effectively deliver that treatment.
One of the most important components of both an ACLS and BLS course is properly administering CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). This life-saving procedure, which is administered when a person has stopped breathing or their heart has stopped, is estimated to save the lives of more than 200,000 adults per year.
Naturally, many in the nursing industry have wondered whether ACLS and BLS courses actually increase how effectively medical professionals can administer CPR. In this article, we will discuss a study that sought to evaluate the effectiveness of these courses and measure the impact the courses have had on the global medical community.
Study Background and Publication
The study, which was called “Impact of advanced cardiac life support training program on the outcome of cardiopulmonary resuscitation in a tertiary care hospital” was originally published in the high-profile Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine and was later re-published by the American National Institute of Health. The research team sought to determine whether the impact of issuing new CPR guidelines could be quantified and also sought to evaluate the effectiveness of ACLS training courses.
In other words, does ACLS and BLS training significantly improve the way CPR is administered in hospitals?
In order to determine whether the answer to the questions posed above was yes, the team monitored 627 in-hospital cardiac arrests. Of this group, 284 cardiac arrests were treated without the newest BLS and ACLS standards, while 343 were treated after BLS and ACLS training was completed. The team would then compare the outcomes of these separate groups and determine if the resulting difference was statistically significant.
According to the study, “In the pre-BLS/ACLS training period, 52 patients (18.3 percent) had a return of spontaneous circulation, compared with 97 patients (28.3 percent) in the post-BLS/ACLS training period (P < 0.005). Survival to hospital discharge was also significantly higher in the post-BLS/ACLS training period (67 patients, 69.1 percent) than in the pre-ABLS/ACLS training period (12 patients, 23.1 percent).”
The results were considered statistically conclusive. The ACLS and BLS training increased final survival outcomes by more than 50 percent. Ensuring that all nurses and other medical professionals have the skills needed to react to cardiac arrest is clearly very important. With these programs in place—including in developing countries, such as India—tens of thousands of lives can be saved around the world each year.
“Successful resuscitation after cardiac arrest requires early recognition of cardiac arrest, rapid activation of trained responders, timely initiation of BLS, early defibrillation and early ACLS,” the study’s conclusion states, “We conclude that formal certified BLS and ACLS training courses with hands-on practice and their periodic renewal are crucial in improving the outcomes of CPR.”
Obtaining and Renewing ACLS and BLS Certification
ACLS and BLS certification is required for many people working in the medical industry, particular nurses, doctors, and emergency responders. However, even if someone is living in a jurisdiction where completing these courses is not required by law, it is still a good idea for them to take the time to complete a corresponding course—this is something that, as the evidence above clearly indicates, can save many lives.
Fortunately, obtaining both BLS and ACLS certification (along with another related certification, known as PALS) is something that is easier than ever before. Even in the wake of the current health situation, online ACLS certification can be done in a social distant setting and at your own pace. These courses—which typically include dozens of pages of material, practice tests, and other study materials—can help ensure that nurses of all kinds will be ready to act in the event a sudden cardiac emergency arises.
In some cases, individuals who complete an online course may need to perform a supplementary evaluation, though this can vary depending on where you live and who your current employer is. Regardless, per the recommendation made in the study, your certification will need to be regularly updated over the course of your career. Currently, ACLS certifications need to be renewed once every two years. This not only ensures that your current skills and knowledge are entirely up to date, but this will also give you an opportunity to review CPR best practices and any treatment recommendations that may have changed.
As a busy medical professional, it can be pretty tempting to view ACLS certification and ACLS recertification as a simple industry requirement that doesn’t have a major impact on your life. However, as this study—and others like it—has demonstrated, the impact of these certifications is actually quite profound. By ensuring that your ability to perform CPR is entirely up to date, you just might end up saving someone’s life.