CPR effectivness

Is CPR as Useful as We Think?

Since the 1960s, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) has been a staple of emergency medicine. But recent research is showing that maybe this technique isn’t the best avenue for saving lives like we originally thought.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 14 million people in 60 different countries received CPR training between 2011 and 2012. However, the real-life effectiveness of this “life-saving” technique isn’t nearly as high as our favorite TV dramas would have us believe. A 2012 study of over 400,000 people found that only 2% of adults who collapse on the street and receive CPR from a bystander will recover fully. The other 98% either were not able to be resuscitated, died within 30 days, or lived, but with significant brain injuries.

Because of these recent discoveries, the question is being raised of whether or not CPR should be used if you see someone collapse in front of you. This is still difficult to answer, since the person’s preferences on the subject may not be able to be communicated. If for any reason you know that the person has a do-not-resuscitate order, then do not attempt CPR. However, if you are in doubt about their wishes, it is up to your discretion. Practicing physicians and nurses trained in CPR have an ethical duty to respond, but the average layperson is protected no matter how they choose to respond. 

Last Updated: November 10, 2016

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