Sudden cardiac arrest in children in the general practitioner’s practice

1 Department of Public Health, Wroclaw Medical University, Wrocław, Poland
2 Department of Emergency Medicine, College of Rehabilitation, Warsaw, Poland
3 Department and Clinic of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, Wroclaw Medical University, Wrocław, Poland
Correspondence: Michał Czapla, Department of Public Health, Wroclaw Medical University, Bartla 5, 51-618 Wrocław, Poland, tel.: +48 535 599 535, e-mail:

Pediatr Med Rodz 2020, 16 (1), p. 45–48
DOI: 10.15557/PiMR.2020.0007

Sudden cardiac arrest in children is a very rare occurrence in the general practitioner’s office. There is no doubt that prompt initiation of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and good quality of cardiopulmonary resuscitation provided by healthcare professionals are crucial for increasing the chance of survival. Consequently, it is vital for primary care physicians and other staff working in primary care to be able to recognise sudden cardiac arrest. The legal system in Poland neither imposes an obligation on physicians to take Basic Life Support (BLS) training, nor does it specify how often medical professionals should refresh their skills. Certificates confirming the completion of European Resuscitation Council (ERC) courses in BLS are valid for 3 years. After that time, the course must be repeated, which increases the frequency of staff training in this field. It is also important to note that guidelines for the management of sudden cardiac arrest are updated by the European Resuscitation Council every 5 years. In the event of loss of consciousness, and impairment or complete absence of breathing occurring in a patient in the general practitioner’s office, cardiac arrest should be suspected, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be initiated as soon as possible. Checking for a pulse is not currently recommended, and should be avoided both by medically untrained and professionally qualified medical staff. Since palpation of a pulse is not reliable as a determinant of the need for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the decision to initiate resuscitation should be made based on the patient’s complete picture. The paper presents the methodology of administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation to children over 1 year of age, and illustrates it with suitable photographs.

Keywords: cardiopulmonary resuscitation, sudden cardiac arrest, child