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Original Research

Open Access Special Issue

Reasons for the termination of resuscitation in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests before and after the COVID-19 pandemic in Korea

  • Jun Her1
  • Youngsuk Cho1,2,*,†,
  • Gyu Chong Cho1,†

1Department of Emergency Medicine, Kangdong Sacred Heart Hospital, 05355 Seoul, Republic of Korea

2Graduate School, Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Medicine, Hanyang University, 04763 Seoul, Republic of Korea

DOI: 10.22514/sv.2022.081 Vol.19,Issue 3,May 2023 pp.137-145

Submitted: 02 October 2022 Accepted: 09 November 2022

Published: 08 May 2023

*Corresponding Author(s): Youngsuk Cho E-mail:

† These authors contributed equally.


The incidence of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) gradually increased during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and the number of cases requiring termination of resuscitation (TOR) also rose. This study aimed to analyze the reasons for TOR of OHCA cases over 2 years (2019–2020). This retrospective observational study was conducted using data gathered from prehospital emergency medical service (EMS) care reports generated in Seoul between 01 January 2019, and 31 December 2020. We included OHCA cases reported to the EMS system in this study. Patients who experienced cardiac arrest for a non-medical cause and received cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) from EMS paramedics at the scene were excluded. The variables of demographics and comorbidities, arrest location, identity of the bystander, cause of cardiac arrest, first monitored electrocardiographic (ECG) rhythm, and reason for TOR were investigated. We compared data for 1 year before and after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 10,872 OHCAs with TOR were included in this study; of these, 6238 cardiac arrest cases were terminated without resuscitation attempts during the COVID-19 period compared to 4634 during the pre-COVID-19 period. During the COVID-19 period, the proportion of women in the total population decreased, while the median age increased (p < 0.001). Patients with comorbidities, the frequency of asystole rhythm at first monitoring, and the number of witnessed cardiac arrests significantly increased (p < 0.001). The proportion of TOR cases due to decisions made by a medical director and refusal of CPR by family members also significantly increased, while that due to clear evidence of death decreased (p < 0.001). In conclusion, there was a significant change in the reason for TOR before and after the COVID-19 pandemic in Korea.


Cardiac arrest; Cardiopulmonary resuscitation; COVID-19; Emergency medical services; Termination of resuscitation

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Jun Her,Youngsuk Cho,Gyu Chong Cho. Reasons for the termination of resuscitation in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests before and after the COVID-19 pandemic in Korea. Signa Vitae. 2023. 19(3);137-145.


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