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A guide to ACLS algorithms

ACLS algorithms are directly responsible for saving innumerable lives each day in hospitals and emergency care units. Advanced cardiac life support is a set of procedures that are deployed when medical emergency response teams are dealing with cardiac arrest. It's not something that a lay person can do, and needs intensive medical training and qualifications, lots of practice as well as the ACLS certification. This article provides you with a guide to ACLS algorithms.


Due to its common presence on TV and Hollywood movies, CPR has become a household word. Ordinary people may often be trained to offer immediate life support and CPR in case of an emergency. However, ACLS goes a long way beyond that and includes everything from defibrillation to shocks, clearing the airways and insertion of IV and chest tubes. Patients are given specific ACLS drugs like atropine and the root cause of the cardiac arrest is analysed.


The ACLS algorithms are the handiwork of the American Heart Association, which came up with them in 1974. Each of these ACLS algorithms are actually flow-charts, where the medical team makes a yes-no decision and continues on to the next step based on the patient's condition and response to the treatment. While it isn't possible to discuss an algorithm in more detail here, it is good to know that responders at emergency care units have all the algorithms memorised and don't need to refer to a manual or a printed flow-chart. That's what the certification is all about.


The main aim here is to get the provider card, which allows the holder to be part of an ACLS team and administer the algorithm. Obviously, only those who have learnt every step of all the algorithms and have shown the hands-on ability to administer the steps are given ACLS certification and the provider card.


PALS and ACLS certification However, it's a lot easier these days with online courses for PALS and ACLS certification or recertification. Students can sign up and pay for the course, certification exam and the provider card. There will be interactive modules and training material that will take students through each algorithm and provide all the required skills. There will be sample cases of ACLS algorithms provided that can be studied and seen so as to understand how it actually works in reality. The entire course is done online. The final evaluation after completion of the course can be done at the student's place of employment.

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