​Duke-NUS scientists continue to shape global thought leadership in emergency medicine—this time, with the recent selection of a 2021 research paper for inclusion in a compilation of high-quality emergency medicine articles from that year by the Global Emergency Medicine Literature Review Group1.

The paper on increasing out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) survival rates2, led by Professor Marcus Ong from Duke-NUS’ Health Services and Systems Research Programme and first published in the journal Resuscitation, was selected from an initial pool of more than 44,000 articles as one of only 23 articles that met the Review Group’s stringent criteria for clarity, study design, global importance and relevance as well as the likely impact on the global practice of emergency medicine. 

The Group further categorises the selected articles in three broad categories and Prof Ong’s paper was one of the only four included in the emergency medicine development category. The compilation was published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine in August 2022.

In Singapore, nearly 3,000 people have a sudden cardiac arrest every year in Singapore and about 30 per cent of these occur in public places rather than at home. 

“In Asia-Pacific, pre-hospital emergency care systems are still underdeveloped and the survival rates here are low compared with countries that have more developed systems,” said Prof Ong, who is also Director of the Pre-hospital and Emergency Research Centre at Duke-NUS, about the study. “To increase the survival rates, we sought to find cost-effective solutions for implementation in these systems across all settings.”

In their study, Prof Ong and his collaborators from 12 countries in Asia Pacific aimed to evaluate the impact of dispatcher-assisted CPR on OHCA survival rates, where bystanders were guided through performing CPR by trained dispatchers over the telephone. 

Prof Ong, faculty and organising committee at the Resuscitation Academy Workshop in Hanoi, Vietnam, 20-21 Aug 2019

“Unlike other diseases where only healthcare workers can play a significant role in treating patients, OHCA is a unique condition that requires partnership between the community, pre-hospital emergency care workers and hospital providers to ‘treat’ these patients,” said Prof Ong. “By developing a low-cost telephone CPR programme, our study demonstrated that the public can learn how to work with emergency healthcare workers in saving the lives of OHCA patients even in low resource settings.”

Each year, the Review Group, which presented its first such synthesis in 2005, highlights high-quality emergency medicine research in the areas of emergency medicine development, disaster and humanitarian response and emergency care in resource-limited settings to illustrate best practices, help stimulate further research and further professionalise the field. 

Professor Patrick Casey, Senior Vice-Dean for Research at Duke-NUS, commented, “Marcus has been tenacious in his efforts to improve the survival rates for people who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital—efforts for which he also received the National Outstanding Clinician-Scientist award earlier this year. I am proud that Duke-NUS can attract and develop researchers like Marcus whose work serves as a reference and inspiration for clinicians, researchers and policymakers in Singapore and across the globe.”