Ambulance staff draw lots over heart patients

Ambulance personnel in Malmö have been instructed to play a game of chance when deciding which treatment to apply to heart attack patients.

The swipe of a card will decide how ambulance staff should proceed when treating cardiac arrest patient. Medical personnel will be presented with one of two options: the first will advise them to apply a traditional heart massage treatment; the second will instead recommend the use of a heart massage machine.

“Morally, it doesn’t feel good,” ambulance nurse Björn Jadeland told local newspaper Sydsvenskan.

Ambulance staff in the region are participating in a study designed to show whether the heart machine is more effective than humans at saving lives.

Heart specialist Johan Silfverstolpe believes the machine, known as Lucas, has the advantage of being able to provide massage treatment for longer periods than ambulance personnel.

Asked whether there was a risk that people might die if the card chose the wrong method, Silfverstolpe said:

“One has to weigh up the gains from a study with the possible risks to the individual. In the long term we can save lives if we find that Lucas offers a better treatment.”