Trained or not, Americans are terrible at administering CPR

Researchers say Americans need better resuscitation training

U.S. adults trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) are no better at administering the lifesaving procedure than those who are not, according to a study from the University of Cincinnati (UC).

Researchers—who recently presented their findings at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine's annual meeting—asked 50 visitors at a hospital ED about their previous CPR training and their confidence in performing CPR. Study participants were then asked to demonstrate their CPR skills on a mannequin, and research assessed whether they:

  • Checked for responsiveness;
  • Called for help;
  • Began chest compressions immediately;
  • Had correct hand placement;
  • Used correct compression depth; and
  • Used correct compression rate.

Not one person in the study—trained or not—performed all six components of CPR correctly, the researchers said.

The participants especially struggled with compression rate and depth. "Although traditional CPR classes emphasize pushing hard and fast, our subjects almost universally pushed too slow and too soft," UC professor of ED medicine Jason McMullan said.

Lead author Jennifer Sayegh said that the study revealed "there is desperate need to train or retrain people better because the current way of training doesn't obviously increase their skills or confidence." She added that "[w]ithout getting better training out there, people will continue to die needlessly from cardiac arrest" (Sayegh et al., study abstract, 5/17; University of Cincinnati release, 5/17; Ritchie, "CincyBizBlog," Business Courier, 5/28).


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