CPR: Worth the Fight?

Bethany Skidmore on Jun 15, 2016 3:33:42 PM

Is CPR worth the flight?

If you’ve been around the internet the past couple of years, you may have seen the argument about whether learning CPR is worth it. 


While CPR is often associated with drowning, the argument has been focused on its use in cases of cardiac arrest. Those against it focus on the low survival rates and the fact that performing CPR can cause unnecessary suffering for the victim. Yet, it still is the best option we have for treating cardiac arrest in the field. Herein lies the argument: is CPR still worth learning?

(Spoiler alert: yes.)

CPR Increases Survival Rates

While it’s difficult to perform a comprehensive study of cardiac arrest patients, it is estimated 2% to 16% of people survive the CPR process in the long run range from 2% to 16%. Of course, it isn’t the CPR itself that’s killing these patients. Cardiac arrest has the highest mortality rate in America and CPR is a life-saving act. However, the case has been made that CPR is a cruel and painful elongation of life, as it can fracture ribs and lead to internal bleeding. Yet the number of patients who survive cardiac arrest is three times higher when CPR is performed. CPR is still saving lives.

Annual Statistics

Over 300,000 people in America go into cardiac arrest each year. That’s about one every 90 seconds. 80% of cardiac arrest cases occur outside of a hospital, which means that most people aren’t near a doctor when they collapse. Nowadays, so few people know CPR and so many are worried about legal complications, that only 30% of people who do collapse outside of a hospital receive CPR. That means the other 70% have a third of the chance of surviving than those who receive CPR. Of the 200,000 people who die of cardiac arrest each year, about 50,000 could have been saved.

Legal Reassurance

Across America, more and more people are signing DNR orders, asking that they not be resuscitated should anything happen to them. Still, the vast majority of people do not have anything like this and want life-saving attempts to be made. Even if a patient does have a DNR, the 2000 Federal Cardiac Arrest Survival Act ensures that you will not be sued for performing CPR except in cases of gross negligence. Good Samaritan acts exist for a reason. These acts protect you in your good intentions.

How to Be Prepared

This week hosts the SMACC Dub conference, an international conference held this year in Dublin about critical care. The international community agrees: it’s still right to learn CPR. It’s still right to try to save a life. There are many places to do this: CPR is as widely taught as it should be practiced.

One of the places you can become CPR certified is with us. Our Workforce Training Department offers a variety of CPR courses, with one starting almost every week in the semester. Visit our website at cetrain.isu.edu/cpr to learn more—come be a more prepared citizen with us.

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