This retrospective cohort study was conducted to test prehospital prognostic indicators in pediatric submersion victims. The authors studied all less than 20 years old victims submerged in the non-icy waters of King County, WA who were treated by Seattle or King County Emergency Medical Services between 1985 and 1989 and were hospitalized or died. Seventy-seven victims were identified from emergency medical services incident logs, hospital discharge records, and medical examiner's registries. Outcome predictors were correlated with the victim's condition at hospital discharge. Of 29 victims in cardiac arrest, 13 had return of spontaneous circulation following field resuscitation. Of these, 6 (21%) survived, with mild (n = 2) and severe (n = 4) neurologic impairment at hospital discharge. The best outcome predictors were obtained in the field. These were, for death or severe neurologic impairment, submersion durations >10 minutes (6/6) and resuscitation durations >25 minutes (17/17), and for good outcome, sinus rhythm (37/37), reactive pupils (43/43), and neurologic responsiveness (40/40) at the scene. Field-determined factors were reproducibly good outcome predictors. Aggressive emergency medical services may save the lives of pediatric victims in cardiac arrest following short submersion durations. The data support pronouncing dead in the field those pediatric victims of non-icy submersions who do not respond to advanced life support within 25 minutes.
- Received December 26, 1991.
- Accepted May 25, 1992.
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics