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Emergency Medical Minute


Aug 24, 2023

Contributor: Jason Papazian MD, Travis Barlock MD, Jeffrey Olson


In this episode, Dr. Travis Barlock and Jeffrey Olson meet in the studio to discuss several clips from Dr. Jason Papazian’s talk at the event “Laboring Under Pressure, Managing Obstetric Emergencies in a Global Setting” from May 2023. This event was hosted at the University of Denver and was organized with the help of Joe Parker as a fundraiser for the organization Health Outreach Latin America (HOLA).


Dr. Jason Papazian practices Obstetric Anesthesiology for the Maternal Fetal Care Unit at Children's Hospital Colorado. He is the Assistant Program Director of Didactics for the Anesthesiology Residency at the University of Colorado, as well as the Faculty Advisor to Residents and Obstetric Anesthesiology Fellows.


During his talk, Dr. Papazian walks the audience through the steps of a maternal cardiac arrest from initial rapid response, to intubation, CPR, ACLS, and eventually emergency cesarean section.


Some important take-away points from this talk are:

  • The basics save lives. Focus on oxygenating the patient and providing high quality CPR

  • In order to maximize blood return during CPR on an obstetric patient, manually retract the gravid uterus to the left

  • If an arresting mother does not obtain return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) by 4 minutes, the most qualified person should perform a rapid 1-minute bedside cesarean section. This has mortality benefits for both the mother and the infant.


Other medical topics discussed include changes in the obstetric patient’s physiology, roles during a rapid response, steps of intubation, causes of cardiac arrest, management of cardiac arrest, and how pregnancy does (and doesn’t) change ACLS.



  1. Bennett TA, Katz VL, Zelop CM. Cardiac Arrest and Resuscitation Unique to Pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2016 Dec;43(4):809-819. doi: 10.1016/j.ogc.2016.07.011. PMID: 27816162.

  2. Campbell TA, Sanson TG. Cardiac arrest and pregnancy. J Emerg Trauma Shock. 2009 Jan;2(1):34-42. doi: 10.4103/0974-2700.43586. PMID: 19561954; PMCID: PMC2700584.

  3. Health Outreach for Latin America Foundation - HOLA Foundation. (n.d.).

  4. Kikuchi J, Deering S. Cardiac arrest in pregnancy. Semin Perinatol. 2018 Feb;42(1):33-38. doi: 10.1053/j.semperi.2017.11.007. Epub 2017 Dec 13. PMID: 29246735.

Produced by Jeffrey Olson, MS2 | Edited by Jeffrey Olson and Jorge Chalit, OMSII