Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR is a technique performed in the event that someone stops breathing and their heart stops beating. This might be caused by a heart attack, choking, drowning or another emergency. CPR involves a series of chest compressions and rescue breaths. This keeps the lungs from collapsing and maintains circulation to the brain and other tissues. This is performed while the rescuer waits for EMS to arrive.
Not every rescuer trained in CPR performs it the same way. It’s not the rescuer’s ability to perform the 100-120 chest compressions per minute that could be the problem, but their reaction to the situation at hand. Events surrounding the need for CPR are scary and chaotic and each person reacts differently in an emergency. The result may be not enough rescue breaths or not enough chest compressions.
Peter Meaney, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of anesthesia and critical care at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and lead author of this study, commented, “There have been huge advances in CPR and there’s no question that high-quality CPR saves lives,” but given the difference in the number of people who survive after being given CPR, he added, “However, right now there is wide variability in the quality of CPR — and we can do better.”
“If we focus on improving CPR quality we can save lives. We always need to be better, always need to be pushing the needle, because lives are at stake,” Meaney explained.
Research has shown that 3-16% of patients survive when CPR was given for cardiac arrest outside the hospital. The rate is slightly higher inside hospitals with a survival rate of 12-22%. The difference in survival may be based entirely on the quality of the CPR given.
Meany’s group advises that hospitals have a team leader to oversee and evaluate CPR performance, provide checklists to make sure that everyone is following all the steps and provide refresher courses.
The American Heart Association (AHA) provides a one minute video in response to the report that 70% of Americans say they feel helpless in the event of a cardiac emergency that calls for CPR. The video shows the hands-on approach to CPR which has proven just as effective as the traditional chest compressions combined with rescue breaths.
All staff at drug treatment centers are required to be certified in CPR.