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Doctors' Life Support Skills Fade Shortly After Training

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Life-support skills are vital for doctors to save a cardic arrest victim's life. However, new research reveals that those skills will quickly deteriorate after six months to a year of non-use, based on test performance. That's particularly concerning, say the study researchers, since guidelines say that doctors should go through re-training every two years.

Advanced life support refers to the measures that doctors and nurses can take to save a cardiac arrest victim's life, where the heart stops pumping blood to the rest of the body. Cardiac arrest is fatal if it's not treated right away, although there is still a high chance of death even with the use of life support skills. Life support skills include CPR chest compressions that any lay person can perform, but doctors can also give medications, clear the airways or use a defibrilator to "shock" the heart back into pumping blood.

Many experts have expressed concern over the two-year retraining requirement and argue that retraining should occur at shorter time spans than that. For example, Dr. Lance Becker, who is a spokesman for the American Heart Association, says that he is glad that the new study pulls together systematic evidence of the importance of life support training. Although it will be difficult to change the current standard of two years, evidence from studies such as the current one will help to prove the importance of up-to-date life support training for doctors.