Monthly Archives: November 2019

cardiac arrest cpr

Cardiac Arrest: From Hero to Victim

Joe Farrell went to retrieve an errant golf ball when he came upon another player on the ground not breathing. The man’s golfing partner was attempting CPR but not performing it properly.

Joe, a physical therapist, took over. He made sure 911 was called before starting chest compressions. Paramedics arrived and revived the man after several shocks from an automated external defibrillator.

“It was absolutely a big moment in my life and a very humbling event,” Joe said.

He thought at the time that if he ever went into cardiac arrest, he hoped to be lucky enough to have someone nearby who could perform CPR on him. He knew CPR, especially if administered quickly, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

A year later, Joe was that lucky.

Then 56, Joe was talking with fellow physical therapists during a luncheon when he lost consciousness and stopped breathing.

One of the men called 911 and started chest compressions while Joe’s wife, Edie, also a physical therapist, looked on terrified.

Paramedics quickly arrived with an AED. It took seven shocks to restore Joe’s heart rhythm.

As they were entering the emergency room, Joe’s heart stopped again. The AED again revived him.

Joe was put into an induced coma for three days and underwent hypothermia for 24 hours to minimize any brain damage. Edie feared she would lose her husband of 30 years. Making the situation even more stressful, she felt the cardiologist assigned to them was inattentive. He didn’t even look at her when he spoke.

“I happened to know that the son of a friend was a cardiologist and I begged him to take Joe on as a patient,” Edie said. “He is the one who said that Joe should not be allowed to leave the hospital until he had an ICD.”

The friend’s son indeed took over as the cardiologist and Joe received an ICD, or implantable cardioverter defibrillator. The battery-powered device was placed under Joe’s skin to track his heart rate. If it detects a dangerous heart rhythm, it delivers an electric shock.

Doctors later determined a medication side effect – low potassium – had caused his cardiac arrest.

While recuperating at home, Joe felt secure his ICD would protect him. Still, he feared another cardiac arrest.

He cut back on his work hours to help relieve stress. But what really brought Joe relief was a newfound purpose: spreading the word about cardiac arrest, CPR training and the use of defibrillators.

There are more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests annually in the United States, with nearly 90 percent of them fatal.

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Healthcare Provider / BLS Professional CPR online Training certification

You Probably Won’t Get Sued For Performing CPR

Are you worried about getting sued if you provide bystander CPR in a public place? New research suggests that you don’t have to be. In fact, you are more likely to get sued if you don’t intervene.

Dr. Travis Murphy undertook the most comprehensive review to date of jury verdicts, settlements, and appellate opinions focused on lawsuits involving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). His team analyzed 170 cases launched between 1989 and 2019 across all 50 states.

Murphy said the data shows that “no non-medical person has been successfully sued for providing bystander CPR” to those who appear to be in cardiac arrest or trouble. “There have been far more cases brought due to delays in [providing] CPR rather than for providing CPR,” he added.

Murphy, who is an emergency medicine attending physician and a fellow in surgical critical care at the University of Florida in Gainesville, said nearly all the CPR cases (167 out of 170) involved an allegation of negligence, namely not providing CPR when it might’ve helped. In sum, those cases generated punitive damages of roughly $620 million.

Of the three cases in which defendants were charged with battery assault because they did administer CPR, only one was convicted. And that was because “the patient already had a signed ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ order and received CPR anyway in their nursing home,” Murphy explained. The nursing home paid more than $121,000 in damages.

The other two cases were ruled in favor of the bystanders. And that, said Murphy, suggests that bystanders are very well protected by “Good Samaritan” laws.

“The laws vary from state to state,” he explained, and some states do have limitations in place. For example, Kentucky statutes only protect bystanders who offer CPR assistance if they are medically trained.

But most states fully protect bystanders who sincerely try to help, Murphy stressed. Some states even have “Duty to Act” laws that establish fines specifically for bystanders who are medically trained to provide CPR but choose not to help when an emergency unfolds. (Minnesota, Rhode Island and Vermont are three such examples.)

The findings come as little surprise to Dr. Michael Kurz, an associate professor in the department of emergency medicine with UAB Medicine and the Alabama Resuscitation Center in Birmingham.

“There is good scientific literature that suggests that the risk of liability when you stand up in this regard is miniscule, if it exists at all,” Kurz said.

But what should a bystander do if he/she is not trained in CPR?

Murphy said, “Ideally, we would like to see more people trained in CPR. But understanding that not everyone will be trained, calling 911 immediately would be the best course of action, since this is so time-sensitive.” Online CPR Training Courses exist and are just as effective in teaching the life-saving skill as classes held in person.

That thought was seconded by Kurz, who also serves as chair of the American Heart Association’s task force for telecommunicator CPR.

“In general, we encourage the lay public to render aid that they feel comfortable with,” he said. “But any assistance is better than no assistance. Because the alternative in the face of a cardiac arrest is the patient dies if no assistance is given,” Kurz added.

“So you can call 911, and the dispatcher can send appropriate help. But then, in addition, [they] can also provide ‘just in time’ simple CPR instructions over the phone within 20 seconds. That’s all you need to be instructed on how to do it in an emergency, with absolutely no prior training,” Kurz explained.

Murphy’s findings are scheduled for presentation at the American Heart Association meeting, in Philadelphia, Nov. 16 to 18.

Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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