Algorithms to the Rescue

Everyone who is an ACLS provider should learn the algorithms for ALCS and understand the sequence.  Frequent reviews are often needed to keep these fresh in your mind.  Being familiar with the drugs, doses, and indications for use is imperative.  Knowing what you are doing will give you the confidence to stop, question, and intervene when another provider commits an error.  But relying on memory alone can set you up for failure, as we are all human.  Having copies of the algorithm in your pocket or posted in code rooms or medication cabinets acts as a very valuable resource.  It can be referenced quickly and also shown to the other practitioner when there is a question.  Holding out the algorithm card and saying, “Did you want 3 mg of Atropine? The algorithm calls for 0.5 mg of Atropine,” is a very concrete, non-judgmental way to communicate to the other person a possible error.  Making suggestions of other treatment alternatives is also another way to respectfully let the other person know that you think he or she may be taking the wrong action.  It also takes the emphasis out of who is right or wrong, as the focus is now on the algorithm.