So you had the opportunity to take a CPR class that was offered at work. You come out of the class feeling pretty confident about your skills …..30:2, head-tilt-chin-lift, chest rise…..got it! Glad you know it, hope you never have to use. But now it is a year down the road. The certification is good for two years but you’ve already forgotten some of what you learned. If someone suddenly collapsed in front of you would you feel comfortable acting? If you don’t remember everything from you class would you do more harm than good?
This is a common concern for many people who have been trained in CPR but not had real world practice. According to the American Heart Association, when interviewed , bystanders said panic was the major obstacle in performing CPR. This was one factor that led to the AHA releasing updated guidelines in 2010 that allowed for the option of Hands-Only CPR. . Hands-Only CPR is CPR without the mouth-to-mouth breaths. It consists of 2 easy steps:
- Call 9-1-1
- Push hard and fast in the center of the chest
Studies reviewed by the AHA reported that adults who experienced cardiac arrest and received Hands- Only CPR were more likely to survive than those who didn’t receive any type of CPR. Simply stated, doing something is better than doing nothing! The easy to remember Hands-Only technique may help remove barriers for people who want to help but feel unsure of their ability. So don’t let fear inhibit your ability to help save a life. Take action and make a difference.
For more information about Hands-Only CPR you can visit the America heart Association website
Almost every day, someone shares their concerns and fears of being held liable if they were to give CPR to a bystander. It does seem like people can be sued for almost anything these days. Have you read about consumers suing restaurants for causing them to be overweight? Or criminals that sue their own victims for injuries caused while committing the crime?
With this sort of litigiousness being prevalent in our culture, many people tend to be cautious with their interactions with others. When it comes to giving someone CPR or first aid many fear their liability. What happens if they break a rib or if the person isn’t resuscitated? In the state of Tennessee there are protections in place for those who are, in good faith, attempting to provide assistance during an emergency. Most states have these safe guards in place, they are usually referred to as Good Samaritan laws.
Tennessee’s Good Samaritan Law protects ANY person who provides emergency rescue, CPR or first aid from liability if they meet certain conditions:
- The rescuer must be acting in good faith. This means he or she is providing care to the person without any motive other than saving the person’s life or keeping them from further harm. They may not receive any rewards or monetary donation.
- The situation must be a potential life-threatening emergency and the care must be necessary to treat the injury. Examples of life saving treatment are giving CPR, applying pressure for blood loss, giving rescue breaths, providing first aid or performing abdominal thrusts to a choking victim.
- Care must be provided on a voluntary basis. The caregiver must not have legal obligation to provide help nor can they be paid for providing assistance. A healthcare provider (i.e, paramedic, nurse, physician) that is on duty is not protected under Good Samaritan laws. However, a healthcare provider that stops at the scene of an accident and provides first aid (while not on duty) IS protected.
- You may not commit gross negligence. The caregiver must not deliberately act in a way that would cause harm to the victim. This could include performing skills that you are not trained to perform.
The best way to protect yourself is to get certified in CPR and First Aid by taking a class from an authorized training center. Keep your certification current, most certifications last 2 years. As long as you are acting with true intentions of trying to save someone’s life, you are not held liable. If you have not been trained, please call 911 and get an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)!
Good Samaritan Act – Article 4 ARS.#32-1471
Health care providers and other persons administering emergency aid are not liable. Any health care provider licensed or certified to practice as such in this state or elsewhere or any other person who renders emergency care at a public gathering or at a scene of an emergency occurrence gratuitously and in good faith, shall not be liable for any civil or other damages as the result of any act or omission by which person rendering the emergency care, or as the result of any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for further medical treatment or care for the injured persons, unless such person, while rendering such care, is guilty of gross negligence.
To read the entire Tennessee Good Samaritan Act, click here.
This article is not intended to be legal advice
Many studies show that majority of people do not push on the sternum with enough force in order to properly administer CPR compressions. These findings include trained and untrained personnel. The American Heart Association recommends that you push down at least 2 inches for an adult, which requires approximately 125 pounds of pressure.
Pushing with more than 125 pounds increases the potential for rib fractures. Nevertheless, the chances of survival increase tremendously. The idea of ribs breaking sometimes makes rescuers hesitant to push hard. The rescuer needs to focus on pushing hard and fast in order to increase chances of resuscitation, even if it is more likely that ribs will break.
Fracturing ribs is quite normal during CPR, especially on older victims or people with osteoporosis. To avoid ribs cracking use only the heel of your hand to push down on the sternum; directly in between the nipples. Some of the cracking noises could be ribs fracturing but a lot of the noise can also be cartilage.
So, what should you do if you hear ribs cracking? Check your position and keep going. Never Stop! You can heal from a broken rib but if you stop compressions the victim has almost no chance to survive.
At CPR Choice our manikins provide “light-up” feedback to show class participants if they are pushing down with enough pounds of pressure to adequately compress the heart. Sign up for a CPR class today!
Springer. “CPR: More Rib Fractures, But Better Survival Rates.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 June 2007.