The Reality of CPR

From David H. Newman M.D.’s book Hippocrates’ Shadow:

“In his groundbreaking book Sudden Death and the Myth of CPR, Stefab Timmermans argues that the peace and dignity that once accompanied our final moments have been surrendered to the driving social force of medicine, a force that was supposed to yield miracles. But contrary to popular belief and media portrayals, these miracles are rare. According to large reviews and major studies, the overall failure rate of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, ranges from 93 to 99 percent. Yet if current trends continue, each one of us and each of our family members will likely be subjected to this invasive medical ritual, including the violent, repeated compression of our chest, the forced inflation of our lungs, the prying open of our mouths, the insertion of large tubes into our tracheas, the injection of powerful cardiac stimulants. For the great majority of us this will yield nothing other than a disturbing physical aftermath: our ribs will be broken, our hearts will be bruised and our insides will bleed.”……

Newman goes on to explain that CPR can be successful for the rare person who is basically healthy.

He explains that the vast majority of people who come to the brink of death are NOT healthy. “Most of those who experience cardiac arrest do so because the have reached the terminal event in a deadly illness, often cancer, long-standing heart or lung problems, serious infections, kidney failure, or hundreds of other conditions.”

So if you have gone to a CPR class and seeing someone in distress, want to administer to them, please do so. However, be aware that in the vast majority of cases, the person will likely die in spite of your efforts so do not become overly distressed if that happens.

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